Geoffrey Whitworth

Painting
1934 (painted)
Not currently on display at the V&A

Artist/Maker

Geoffrey Whitworth (1883-1951), the son of a barrister, read modern history at Oxford and worked for the Burlington Magazine before joining the publishers Chatto and Windus. In 1919 he formed the British Drama League 'to assist the development of the arts of the Theatre and to promote a right relationship between Drama and the life of the Community'. He was awarded the CBE in 1947. He relinquished the directorship of the League in the following year to become Chairman of the British Drama League's Council. As Hon. Secretary of the Shakespeare Memorial National Theatre Committee from 1930-1951, Geoffrey Whitworth fought tirelessly for the establishment of a National Theatre.

This portrait was given to the sitter at the Royal Society of Arts in November 1934. It was presented by George Bernard Shaw, who praised Whitworth as 'one of the most important people in the theatre today'. Roger Fry (1866-1934), who did not live to attend the ceremony, was closely associated with the British Drama League. He had presided over its first Committee meeting and served on its Plays and Publications Committee. The League became the British Theatre Association in 1972 and finally closed in 1990.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Oil on canvas
Brief Description
Oil painting of Geoffrey Whitworth (1883-1951), founding director of The British Drama League, by Roger Fry (1866-1934).
Physical Description
Three-quarter length portrait of Geoffrey Whitworth (1883-1951)
Dimensions
  • Height: 76.2cm
  • Width: 61.4cm
Production typeUnique
Marks and Inscriptions
  • Roger Fry 1934 (Signature; black oil paint; towards lower right hand corner)
  • 'PRESENTED TO / GEOFFREY WHITWORTH. / FOUNDER AND DIRECTOR OF THE BRITISH DRAMA LEAGUE. / By GEORGE BERNARD SHAW. / ON BEHALF OF THE LEAGUE, NOVEMBER 1st 1934. (Inscription on tablet)
  • GEOFFREY WHITWORTH by Roger Fry / Property of Robin Whitworth [with address] (On top bar of frame verso; typed paper label)
  • 1780 Brit Theatre / Assoc. (On paper label verso; ballpoint pen)
  • Fine Art Packers Fra ... / B31939 / 17 & 18 Nassau Street / Mortimer St. W. / Phones: Museum 1871 & 7588 (On top bar of stretcher; printed paper label)
  • 1780 / Frame (On paper label verso; ballpoint pen)
Credit line
Given by Anna Whitworth
Object history
Presented to Geoffrey Whitworth at the Royal Society of Arts, 1 November 1934, in recognition for the work Whitworth did for the British theatre as the founding-director of The British Drama League. Funds for the painting were collected by subscription, and it was presented to him by George Bernard Shaw. The family lent the painting to the British Theatre Associationand subsequently to The Theatre Museumwhen the museum acquired the collection of the Association in 1990. In 1999 it was given to the museum by Geoffrey Whitrworth's grand-daughter, Anna Whitworth.
Production
Attribution note: Commissioned to be presented to Geoffrey Whitworth at The Royal Society of Arts on 1 December 1934. Approximately 100 organisations and 300 individuals subscribed to the gift, including Lords Howard de Walden and Leverhulme, Arthur Pinero and James Barrie, Nigel Playfair and Barry Jackson, Albert Rutherston and Gordon Craig, and John Ervine and Ivor Brown.

Reason For Production: Commission
Subject depicted
Association
Summary
Geoffrey Whitworth (1883-1951), the son of a barrister, read modern history at Oxford and worked for the Burlington Magazine before joining the publishers Chatto and Windus. In 1919 he formed the British Drama League 'to assist the development of the arts of the Theatre and to promote a right relationship between Drama and the life of the Community'. He was awarded the CBE in 1947. He relinquished the directorship of the League in the following year to become Chairman of the British Drama League's Council. As Hon. Secretary of the Shakespeare Memorial National Theatre Committee from 1930-1951, Geoffrey Whitworth fought tirelessly for the establishment of a National Theatre.



This portrait was given to the sitter at the Royal Society of Arts in November 1934. It was presented by George Bernard Shaw, who praised Whitworth as 'one of the most important people in the theatre today'. Roger Fry (1866-1934), who did not live to attend the ceremony, was closely associated with the British Drama League. He had presided over its first Committee meeting and served on its Plays and Publications Committee. The League became the British Theatre Association in 1972 and finally closed in 1990.
Bibliographic References
  • Catalogue of Paintings at the Theatre Museum, London, by Geoffrey Ashworth. Victoria & Albert Museum 1992. ISBN 185177 102 6
  • 'Drama' (December MCMXXXlV) p.43, BBC Radio 4 script '"We danced upon his strings"' The Story of Geoffrey Whitworth (1883-1951)' broadcast on 20 November 1983.
Collection
Accession Number
S.114-2000

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record createdApril 18, 2000
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