This portrait of Leonard Stokes (1858–1925) was so controversial (instead of evening dress, Stokes was painted wearing an old dressing gown) that the artist was asked to alter it. Orpen refused and was backed up by Stokes, so instead of hanging in a traditional place of honour, it was banished to the basement outside the men’s lavatories. Stokes had a wide general practice, designing churches and public buildings as well as small country and suburban houses. His church work was mainly inspired by medieval gothic and his domestic designs usually derived from English eighteenth century work but both Renaissance and Tudor styles also influenced him. Unusually, his Georgetown Cathedral in British Guiana (1914–1925) was built entirely of reinforced concrete. During his Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) presidency (1910–1912), he made the first attempt to unify the profession by negotiating the absorption of the Society of Architects into the RIBA.
Where to see this painting?
RIBA Library Drawings and Archives Collections
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