The J. Paul Getty Museum

Portrait of J. Paul Getty

Object Details


Portrait of J. Paul Getty


Gerald L. Brockhurst (English, 1890 - 1978)






Oil on canvas

Object Number:



73.7 × 61 cm (29 × 24 in.)


© Richard Woodward

Credit Line:

Gift of J. Paul Getty

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Object Description

At age forty-five when he was beginning to collect art in earnest, J. Paul Getty sat for this portrait at Gerald Brockhurst’s London studio. Getty was on his annual trip to Europe in the summer and fall of 1938, during which he made some of his first major art purchases. It was Brockhurst himself who advised Getty on this occasion to buy the Portrait of James Christie, depicting the founder of Christie’s auction house, by the renowned British artist Thomas Gainsborough (1727–1788).

Brockhurst was one of the most sought-after British portraitists of the 1930s and 1940s; some of his clients included the actress Marlene Dietrich, heiress Sarah Mellon, and Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor. He paid careful attention to realistically capturing his sitters’ physical appearance in their contemporary clothes, set against ambiguous landscape backgrounds. In Getty’s portrait, the pale sky meets horizontal bands of color, placing him in a nonspecific, timeless setting. The cool blues and grays complement Getty’s suit and his composed expression. Unlike other modes of portraiture that might inform viewers about the sitter’s personality or lifestyle, Brockhurst’s austere depiction of Getty reveals little beyond the physical appearance of the man.


1938 - 1967

J. Paul Getty, American, 1892 - 1976 (Malibu, California; Sutton Place, Surrey, England), commissioned from the artist, 1938; donated to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1967.

The Eternal Masquerade: Prints and Paintings by Gerald Leslie Brockhurst (1890-1978) from the Jacob Burns Foundation (August 12 to October 8, 2006)
  • Georgia Museum of Art (Athens), August 12 to October 8, 2006
Collector's Choice: J. Paul Getty and His Antiquities (November 18, 2009 to February 8, 2010)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Villa (Malibu), November 18, 2009 to February 8, 2010

Getty, J. Paul, and Ethel Le Vane. Collector's Choice: The Chronicle of an Artistic Odyssey through Europe (London: W. H. Allen, 1955), p. 99.

Getty, J. Paul. The Joys of Collecting (New York: Hawthorn Books, Inc., 1965), p. 9.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 1st ed. (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1986), pp. 2, 7, fig. 2.

Goodchild, Anne, and Marilyn F. Symmes. A Dream of Fair Women. An Exhibition of the work of Gerald Leslie Brockhurst R. A., Painter and Etcher, exh. cat. (Sheffield, Birmingham, London: 1987), pp. 18, 26.

Jaffé, David. Summary Catalogue of European Paintings in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 17, ill.

Ray, Romita. The Eternal Masquerade: Prints and Paintings by Gerald Leslie Brockhurst (1890-1978) (Athens, GA: Georgia Museum of Art, 2006), pp. 71-74, no. 41, fig. 25.

Barbour, Barton H., et al. American West Chronicle (Lincolnwood, IL: Publications International, 2007), p. 385, ill.

Block, Nicole. "A View of J. Paul Getty." The Iris (December 13, 2019), (accessed January 2, 2020), ill.