Manchester Art Gallery

The Little Invalid

Object description

A dramatically lit domestic scene, depicting a young invalid boy sitting up on a sofa, watched over by his father, two sisters, his mother and the family cat to the right. His mother is drinking from a cup of tea to the left. There is a breakfast table in the foreground to the left on which sit cups and saucers, a teapot, a jug and a vase of flowers.

Display label

The Little Invalid 1912 Henry Tonks 1862-1937 Oil on panel Henry Tonks trained as a surgeon before becoming an artist. As a boy he was peculiarly sensitive to the illness of loved ones. He has painted a similar concern on the sisters’ faces here. The last time we displayed this picture at Manchester Art Gallery its accompanying label described it as ‘compromised’ within progressive British art because it was too like a Victorian genre painting. ‘Modern’ art was displaying French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist tendencies, and Henry Tonks swam against this current. His concern with accurate drawing was felt by Modernist critics to display the anxieties of the amateur. Gift of Mr Charles Lambert Rutherston 1925.288