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10th self-portrait.

  • Charnley, Bryan, 1949-1991
23 May 1991
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Bryan Charnley Self-portraits.
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About this work

Also known as

Tenth self-portrait.


23 May 1991.

Physical description

1 painting : oil on canvas ; 51 x 51 cm

Biographical note

Charnley's diary entry reads: "I really tire of having to explain my paintings. it is very much my tragedy that people cannot understand the straight forward poetic use of symbols I am employing. the blue of the portrait is there because I felt depressed through cutting back on anti-depressants. The wavy lines are because, just as I felt I was safe, a voice from the street gutted me emotionally by it's E.S.P. of my condition... At this stage my central worry was thought broadcasting. This would pass as I gained insight and the effects of drug withdrawal wore off".
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.


Bryan Charnley. 1991. 10th self-portrait. [Oil on canvas]. Wellcome Collection no. 3049696i

References note

Charnley, J. (2018). Bryan Charnley: art and adversity, page 177.

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 23.5.91 on recto. Numbered 10 on verso.

Ownership note

Purchased by Wellcome Collection in 2018 from the Estate of Bryan Charnley.


  • English

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