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Percy Shakespeare, 1906-1943

The Tennis Player by Percy Shakespeare (1906-1943). Oil on canvas, it shows a young dark-haired girl, dressed in tennis whites and holding a racquet, sitting cross-legged on a chair

Oil on canvas, 1937

A three-quarter length portrait of a seated girl. 

In 1936, Percy was thirty. He was still teaching part-time at Birmingham School of Art. He devoted most of his energy on portrait painting; showing scenes from contemporary life, with figures engaged in leisure activities. 

Dorothy Round of Dudley had won the women’s singles at Wimbledon in 1934 and 1937, so locally it was a popular sport.  As well as this painting, in 1937, Shakespeare completed a painting called 'Tennis', which shows a game of tennis in progress, seen from the sidelines with quite a high viewpoint.  This is now in a private collection.

Because both Percy Shakespeare and Dorothy Round came from Dudley, for a long time it was assumed this must be a portrait of the tennis star.  However, photos show that she looked nothing like the woman in this picture, and the real Dorothy Round is unlikely to have revealed this amount of leg! 

The picture was conserved in 2009