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Sir Max Beerbohm

© the artist's estate. Photo credit: National Portrait Gallery, London

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The artist William Nicholson and the caricaturist Max Beerbohm were close friends throughout their lives and used to meet for breakfast once a month. They were described by the writer and gallery owner Lillian Browse as 'curiously alike in their fastidiousness, sensitivity and whimsicality', although William Nicholson's taste in clothes was louder than Beerbohm's. This portrait of Beerbohm by Nicholson suggests Beerbohm's hypersensitivity about his appearance, with his closely fitting long black overcoat like an undertaker's, his dark, sleeked hair and the top hat, later described by Robert Graves as 'a certain superbly glossy top hat' which was left in Nicholson's studio to store paintbrushes when Beerbohm emigrated to Italy.

National Portrait Gallery, London





oil on canvas


H 50.2 x W 40 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

Bequeathed by Mrs G. Kinnell, 1953

Work type



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National Portrait Gallery, London

St Martin’s Place, London, Greater London WC2H 0HE England

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