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3rd self-portrait.

Charnley, Bryan, (1949-1991)
23 April 1991

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About this work

Also known as

Third self-portrait.


Outline of a head with crosses representing the eyes and mouth surrounded by multiple paint marks in blue, green, orange and yellow. The text in the painting reads LOVE HURTS.


23 April 1991.

Physical description

1 painting : oil on canvas ; 50.6 x 50.8 cm

Biographical note

Charnley's diary entry reads: "I was completely unable to concentrate so the painting takes on the crudeness of bad graffiti... I had come to the conclusion that most of the people around me had some sort of extra sensory perception ability which gave them access to my mind. In this respect I was like a blind man. Hence the crosses on the eyes. They also let me know verbally what they had picked up from my thoughts. I was like a dumb man in this respect and hence the cross over the mouth. The crossed out dates are because I was becoming obsessed that I had taken two sittings rather than one on the first self-portrait."
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 at the National Portrait Gallery, London, in 1995. He took his own life in July 1991.


Love hurts.


Bryan Charnley. 1991. 3rd self-portrait. [Oil on canvas]. Wellcome Collection: Library no. 3049689i

Publications note

Charnley, J. (2018). Bryan Charnley: art and adversity, page 174.

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 23/4/91 on recto. Numbered 3 on verso.


  • English

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