Tonks, Henry, 1862-1937

Alternative names
Birth 1862-04-09
Death 1937-01-08

Biographical notes:

English painter.

From the description of Autograph letter signed : London, to Mr. Milkman, 1930 Nov. 30. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270855497

Henry Tonks, born on April 9, 1862, in Solihull, Warwickshire, was an English painter and art teacher. Tonks attended Clifton College, then studied medicine at London Hospital, Whitechapel. In 1887, Tonks began a successful surgical career at the Royal Free Hospital where he worked until 1892, when he became an anatomy demonstrator at the London Hospital medical school in order to have more free time for painting. His knowledge of human anatomy would later be an integral part of both his own art and his teaching.

Starting in 1887 Tonks attended the Westminster School of Art in his free time, where he studied under Frederick Brown. In 1891, he exhibited his first paintings at the New English Art Club. By 1893, Tonks had completely abandoned his medical career to pursue a career in painting and teaching, when he attained a position at the Slade School of Art in London as assistant professor to his former teacher, Frederick Brown.

At the onset of World War I, Tonks went back into medicine, working with prisoners at a camp hospital in Dorchester, then at Hill Hall, Essex. He also worked as an orderly with a British ambulance unit. During this time he began making drawings of facial wounds from the war which were later published in a book titled Plastic Surgery of the Face . In 1918, he was appointed official war artist.

In 1919, Tonks succeeded Frederick Brown as professor at the Slade School of Art in London, where he would teach until his retirement in 1930. After his retirement, Tonks continued to paint until his death on January 8, 1937.

From the guide to the Henry Tonks Collection, 1877-1947, (The University of Texas at Austin, Harry Ransom Center)


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