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We have revised the historic title of this painting, 'Head of a Negro' to make it more accurate as we can identify the sitter, and to respond to debate around the use of the word 'negro'. The historic title dates from a time when the word was commonly used. This is no longer the case. Henry Thomas had met Glyn Philpot's godson in The National Gallery after he had missed his voyage to Jamaica. He became Philpot's companion and was the artist's model in all his paintings and sculptures of black men from 1932. Philpot was a co-founder of the National Portrait Society. As a gay man, he sometimes felt a need to be away from the constraints of British society and travelled widely through the 1920s, in Europe, America and North Africa. In Pittsburgh, he met Matisse, a fellow juror for the Carnegie International Exhibition which awarded the prize to Picasso.
Portrait of Henry Thomas, a Jamaican Man
oil on canvas
H 44.4 x W 36.8 cm