Joseph Southall and Anna Elizabeth Southall

Image credit: National Portrait Gallery, London

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The example of early Italian art persuaded Southall to give up his early training as an architect and to devote himself to highly-crafted paintings which revived the use of egg tempera. Encouraged by Ruskin, Morris and Burne-Jones, he became a leading member of the Birmingham School in the 1890s and founded the Society of Painters in Tempera in 1901.

His wife, Anna Elizabeth, was herself a significant craftswoman, assisting Southall in his work and writing on the art of gilding. Known as 'The Agate', this remarkable portrait shows the couple holding agate stones. The beach is possibly that at Southwold, Suffolk, a favourite haunt of the Southalls where agate is quite easily found.

National Portrait Gallery, London



Joseph Southall and Anna Elizabeth Southall




egg tempera on linen


H 100 x W 50 cm

Accession number

NPG 7020

Acquisition method

purchased with the assistance of the Art Fund and Sir Simon Robertson KT, 2016

Work type



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