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(b Solihull, Warwickshire, 9 Apr. 1862; d London, 8 Jan. 1937). British painter, draughtsman, and teacher. He was interested in art from childhood, and in 1893 he abandoned his successful medical career to become a teacher at the Slade School. (However, he worked in plastic surgery during the First World War.) Tonks remained at the Slade until 1930 (as professor from 1918), and became the most renowned and formidable teacher of his generation—‘in appearance tall, gaunt, and severe’ (DNB). Under him the Slade maintained its position as the dominant art school in Britain (although it was now challenged by the Royal College of Art), and he was a major influence as an upholder of traditional values and an opponent of modern ideas: ‘I don't believe I really like any modern development.

Text source: The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists (Oxford University Press)

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