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7th self-portrait.

Charnley, Bryan, (1949-1991)
7 May 1991

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About this work

Also known as

Seventh self-portrait.


7 May 1991.

Physical description

1 painting : oil on canvas ; 50.6 x 50.9 cm

Biographical note

Charnley's diary entry reads: "I feel like a target for people's cruel remarks. Especially negroes. What is going on? I had sweet talked a girl to suicide because I had no tongue, no real tnggue, and could only flatter. This is very much involved with why I am ill. The nail in the mouth expresses this. The people around me cannot understand how I was so stupid and cannot forgive me. I can only say that I cannot socialise at all because of my weakness verbally and this has been, and has produced, a tragedy. Thus I am a target. the nails in my eyes express that I cannot see whereas other people seem to have extar sensory perception and I am blind in this respect. Lve hurts. i keep well away from women of the advice of my psychiatrist. On two depixol tablets plus two tablets of anti-depressants, Triptysol."
Bryan Charnley (1949-1991) was a British artist whose work illustrates his experiences of schizophrenia. In 1969 he enrolled on a BA in sculpture at the Central School of Art and Design, but left due to a breakdown. He started painting in 1978, and from the late 1980s he began to get recognition for his work, with Bethlem Royal Hospital purchasing four of his paintings. From 1987 to his death he kept a dream diary as a way of understanding his own mind. In March 1991 he decided to experiment with his medication and embarked on a series of self-portraits, a series which exposed his mental illness. The series was exhibited after his death at the National Portrait Gallery, London. He took his own life in July 1991.


Bryan Charnley. 1991. 7th self-portrait. [Oil on canvas]. Wellcome Collection: Library no. 3049693i

Publications note

Charnley, J. (2018). Bryan Charnley: art and adversity, page 176.

Exhibitions note

Exhibited in ‘Bryan Charnley self-portraits: face to face with schizophrenia’ at the National Portrait Gallery, London, 21 July – 3 December 1995.


Title provided by the Estate of Bryan Charnley.
Dated 6/5/91 on recto. Numbered 7 on verso.


  • English

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