This self-portrait was painted in 1929 and was submitted by Luke as part of his 'Diploma' work at the Slade in June 1930. Like the slightly later Self-Portrait as St. Francis and Natas (Self-Portrait) paintings, remained in the artist’s possession until his death. As with The Tipster a detailed preparatory pencil study for this self-portrait survives (sold Whyte's, 15 March 2010, lot 50) that shows the artist’s systematic approach to painting as underpinned by his exceptional drawing skills. The painting’s heightened decorative qualities, such as the palate of primary colours and the flat amber-gold background, indicates the increasing importance of the Italian Primitives, that Luke studied so assiduously in the National Gallery as a student, and that would eventually lead him to a lifelong study of tempera and fresco painting.
Dr. Joseph McBrinn
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