Psychologist, physician and pioneer in the scientific study of sex, Ellis was an advocate of sex education, birth control and women's suffrage. The first volume in his seven-volume series, Studies in the Psychology of Sex (1897–1928) was banned in Britain and published in the United States. This portrait depicts Havelock Ellis in his writing studio, adjoining the cottage at Carbis Bay, Cornwall where he and his wife Edith spent their winters during the 1890s. The artist, Henry Bishop, was essentially an outdoor and landscape artist but painted portraits from time to time. Bishop stayed in one of the other Carbis Bay cottages, which Edith Ellis rented to artistic and literary types, sometime around 1894 or soon after. He became a good friend of Havelock and Edith Ellis and this painting was probably a gift from artist to sitter. The portrait was bequeathed to the Gallery by Professor François Lafitte, Havelock Ellis's adopted son. His mother, the writer and translator, Françoise Lafitte Cyon, was Ellis's partner, 1916–1939.
Where to see this painting?
National Portrait Gallery, London
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