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Head of a Wounded Soldier by Henry Tonks


Between 1916 and 1917 Tonks worked at Harold Gillies' plastic surgery unit which treated soldiers who had suffered facial injuries in combat. His primary role was to provide diagrams of surgery both to plan and to record the operations that Gillies performed. Whilst working at Sidcup Tonks also drew a remarkable series of pastel portraits of the injured men, recording their appearance before and after surgery. This portrait is of Private J. Williams who served in the 3rd Nigeria company and who was wounded by a gun shot to his lower lip and chin. Tonks surgical background enabled him to provide a unique artistic perspective on the war and he was also commissioned as an official war artist to paint a large scale painting of an advanced dressing station (Imperial War Museum) where soldiers just returned from the front line were treated.

From: J. P. Bennett, 'Henry Tonks and Plastic Surgery', Supplement to the British Journal of Plastic Surgery, No. 39, 1986

Lit: Emma Chambers, 'Henry Tonks: Art and Surgery', exhib. Cat. Strang Print Room, UCL, 2002
Artist:Henry Tonks
Artwork type:drawing
Material:pastel on paper
Measurements:280 x 221 mm
Technique:pastel
Date:1917
Location:College Art Collections, UCL (Slade School Collections)
Culture:British
Rights owner: The Artist's Family
Rights status:UK HE use only
Institution:Slade School of Art

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Henry Tonks 1912

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