Ben Uri collection

Man Reading

Artist information

Name Barnett Freedman (1901-1958)

Born London, England

Died London, England

Find more work in the collection by this artist

The son of Russian-Jewish émigrés, Freedman was born in Stepney in the East End in 1901. As a child, he suffered extended ill health and had no formal schooling after the age of nine, but exhibited a precocious talent for drawing. He was first employed as a draughtsman to a monumental mason, architect and sign-writer, also taking evening classes at St Martin’s School of Art. He was admitted to the Royal College of Art upon the recommendation of William Rothenstein, then principal, where he studied under Paul Nash (1922¬–5). Freedman retained strong links with the RCA throughout his working life, as a tutor, examiner and, finally, as Honorary Fellow. Freedman served as a war artist during the Second World War and was awarded the CBE in 1946. He was elected as a Royal Designer for Industry in 1949, became an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Art in 1956 and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

Object Details

Date 1925

Object type painting

Medium oil on canvas

Materials and techniques oil (medium) canvas (support)

Unframed 75 x 46 cm

Acquisition presented by the artist's son Vincent Freedman in 2010

Accession number 2010-10

Display status not on display

The man reading depicted in Freedman’s portrait is his friend the painter, muralist, draughtsman and teacher, Cyril Mahoney (1903–1968), whom he renamed ‘Charlie’ when they studied together at the Royal College of Art under William Rothenstein in the early 1920s. Mahoney subsequently became a tutor at the Royal College (1928–53, painting tutor from 1948–53) and is among those depicted in Rodrigo Moynihan’s group portrait ‘Teaching Staff of the Painting School at the Royal College of Art’ (1949–50); as well as at the Byam Shaw School of Drawing and Painting (1954–63) and at the Royal Academy Schools (1961–68). Together with Eric Ravilious and Edward Bawden, Mahoney co-painted the Morley College murals (1928–30; destroyed); and further murals at Brockley School, Kent (with Evelyn Dunbar); and at Campion Hall Lady Chapel, Oxford. His oil paintings are often on religious subjects, but he was also a skilled botanist. He exhibited at the New English Art Club and the Royal Academy, and was made an RA elect in 1968.


painting | portrait

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© Barnett Freedman estate