• 1951 Born in Sussex
  • 1967–73 Tunbridge Wells, Brighton and Canterbury Art Schools
  • 1971–73 Bass player, Kilburn and the Highroads
  • 1982 Winner of the Imperial Tobacco Portrait Award, National Portrait Gallery, London
  • 1985–98 Artistic Records Committee, Imperial War Museum, London
  • 2002 Honorary Fellow, KIAD
  • 2002 Artist-in-Residence, Dulwich Picture Gallery, London
  • 2004 Elected Royal Academician
  • 2008 Coordinator, The 240th Royal Academy Summer Exhibition
  • 2009 Artangel project, Life Class: Today’s Nude, Channel 4, directed by Alan Kane
  • 2012 Honorary Doctor, Canterbury Christ Church University
  • 2012-20 Professor of Perspective, Royal Academy of Arts
  • 2015 Honorary Doctor, University of Kent
  • 2016 The Essay: Impington College, Cambridge, BBC Radio 3
  • 2018 Only Artists, BBC Radio 4
  • 2022 Seven works acquired by the British Museum
  • 2023 Work acquired by the Government Art Collection

    Currently lives and works in London

One Man Exhibitions

  • 1984 A new portrait of Paul McCartney and drawings made on the 1976 Wings tour, National Portrait Gallery, London
  • 1986–87 Humphrey Ocean: Paintings and Drawings and the Artist’s Choice from the Permanent Collections of the Ferens Art Gallery, Ferens Art Gallery, Hull; Usher Gallery, Lincoln; Talbot Rice Art Centre, Edinburgh; South Hill Park, Bracknell; Camden Arts Centre, London; Ramsgate Library Gallery
  • 1991–92 Double Portrait, A Painting of two film-makers and their simultaneous Film-Portrait of the painter Humphrey Ocean with Belinda Parsons and John Tchalenko; Dulwich Picture Gallery, London; Tate Liverpool; The Whitworth, University of Manchester; National Museum of Photography, Film and Television, Bradford; Whitechapel Art Gallery, London; Castle Museum, Norwich
  • 1997–98 urbasuburba, Humphrey Ocean and Jock McFadyen The Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester; Ormeau Baths Gallery, Belfast; Kapil Jariwala Gallery, London
  • 1999 The Painter’s Eye, Humphrey Ocean and John Tchalenko, National Portrait Gallery, London
  • 2003 how’s my driving, Dulwich Picture Gallery, London
  • 2009 Humphrey Ocean Perfectly Ordinary, Sidney Cooper Gallery, Canterbury Christ Church University
  • 2011 Here and There, Jesus College Cambridge
  • 2012 Now and Then, Canterbury Christ Church University
  • 2012–13 A handbook of modern life, National Portrait Gallery, London
  • 2018 I've No Idea Either, Sims Reed Gallery, London
  • 2018-19 Birds, Cars and Chairs, Keeper's House, Royal Academy of Arts, London
  • 2022 Fresh as Paint (HO selects from the College Collections), David Verey Gallery, Eton College
  • 2024 That was close, DKUK, Peckham 14 January -11 May

Group Exhibitions

  • 1982 The South Bank Show, South London Art Gallery, London
  • 1986 Das Automobil in der Kunst 1886–1986, Haus der Kunst, Munich
  • 1989 Picturing People 1945–1989, British Council touring Far East
  • 1996 Die Kraft der Bilder, Martin Gropius Bau, Berlin
  • 1996 British Council, Treasures from The National Portrait Gallery, London; Koriyama City Museum of Art, Fukushima; Matsuzakaya Art Museum, Nagoya; Kitakyushu Municipal Museum of Art; Hiroshima Museum of Art; Daimaru Museum, Tokyo
  • 2000–01 Painting The Century, National Portrait Gallery, London
  • 2000–01 Best of British, Australian National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
  • 2001 Peter Blake’s room, 233rd Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy of Arts, London
  • 2001 Portrait of Paul McCartney (NPG 5695) by Humphrey Ocean shown with Portrait of Winifred Radford (NPG 6397) by Meredith Frampton, Millenium Gallery, Sheffield
  • 2002–3 Royal Treasures: A Golden Jubilee Celebration, The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, London
  • 2004–6 How Do You Look, an exhibition by John Tchalenko featuring a collaboration with Humphrey Ocean Dulwich Picture Gallery, London; Yard Gallery, Nottingham; County Gallery, Maidstone; Ferens Art Gallery, Hull; Thackray Medical Museum, Leeds; Hunterian Gallery, Royal College of Surgeons, London
  • 2006 Icons and Idols: Commissioning Contemporary Portraits, National Portrait Gallery, London; York City Art Gallery
  • 2008 Coordinator of 240th Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy of Arts, London, curated Gallery 4
  • 2008 Changing Rooms, curated by Group Show, 38 Shakespeare Road, Brixton, London
  • 2010 Krikey! Kentemporary Prints, Jarman Studio, University of Kent
  • 2011 A Life in Art: Monika Kinley, Plymouth Arts Centre
  • 2011 Works Printed by Maurice Payne, Pace Prints, New York
  • 2012 Courtship of the Peoples, Simon Oldfield, London
  • 2012 Red White and Blue: Pop Punk Politics Place, Chelsea Space, London
  • 2013 Shortlisted for Charles Wollaston Award, 245th Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy of Arts, London
  • 2013 Gifted: From the Royal Academy to The Queen, The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, London
  • 2014 Ship to Shore, John Hansard Gallery and SeaCity Museum, Southampton
  • 2014 Last Train, Ron Arad Studio, London
  • 2014 Art Everywhere, Art Fund. Lord Volvo and his Estate, 1982, one of 57 of the nation’s favourite paintings, on billboard sites around Great Britain
  • 2015 Shortlisted for Charles Wollaston Award, 247th Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy of Arts, London
  • 2015 Macmillan SHARED, Somerset House, London
  • 2015 50 Years of British Road Signs, Design Museum, London
  • 2015 books + papers, Christine König Galerie, Vienna
  • 2016 FOUND, curated by Cornelia Parker, The Foundling Museum, London
  • 2016-17 Towards Night, Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne
  • 2017 Wären Flüss und Meere Tinte, Christine König Galerie, Vienna
  • 2017 Art of the Postcard, Handel Street Projects, London
  • 2017 Drawing Together, The Courtauld Gallery, London
  • 2017-18 From Life, Royal Academy of Arts, London
  • 2018 Curated Gallery 4 for the 250th Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy of Arts, London
  • 2019 books + papers II, Christine König Galerie, Vienna
  • 2020 Me, Myself and I, Christine König Galerie, Vienna
  • 2022 Seafaring, Hastings Contemporary
  • 2023 New Acquisitions: Paul Bril to Wendy Red Star, British Museum


  • 1983–96 Portraits of Philip Larkin, Paul McCartney, A.J. Ayer, Lord Whitelaw, Tony Benn for National Portrait Gallery, London
  • 1988–92 Danny McGrain, Ralph Glasser for Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh
  • 1989 Graham Greene for the Royal Library, Windsor Castle
  • 1998–99 Wellcome Trust Sci-Art Award for a project with John Tchalenko on ‘The Painter’s Eye Movement’ in collaboration with Stanford University and University of Oxford
  • 1999 ‘The First of England’, a contemporary art commission for the opening of Neptune Court, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich
  • 2000 MBZ Bruges-Zeebrugge Port Authority, Belgium
  • 2003 Portrait of John Drury, Christ Church, Oxford
  • 2006 Portrait of Ben Pimlott, Goldsmiths College, University of London
  • 2014 Portrait of Randy Lerner, National Portrait Gallery, London
  • 2016 Portrait of Mark Jones, St Cross, University of Oxford
  • 2017 Portrait of Penelope Curtis, 'Diversifying Portraiture Project', University of Oxford


  • 1982 ‘The Ocean View’ (Plexus)
  • 1990 ‘Big Mouth: The Amazon Speaks’ by Stephen Nugent with drawings by Humphrey Ocean (Fourth Estate; and 1994 BrownTrout, San Francisco)
  • 1997 ‘urbasuburba’ Humphrey Ocean and Jock McFadyen exhibition catalogue with a story ‘Island Life’ by Will Self (Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester)
  • 2001 ‘Zeebrugge by Humphrey Ocean’ (Bruges-Zeebrugge Port Authority)
  • 2003 ‘how’s my driving’ introduction by Desmond Shawe-Taylor (Dulwich Picture Gallery, London)
  • 2009 ‘Humphrey Ocean Perfectly Ordinary’ introduction by David Anfam (Sidney Cooper Gallery, Canterbury)
  • 2012 ‘Humphrey Ocean Here and There’ introducton by Rod Mengham, (Jesus College, Cambridge)
  • 2012 ‘A handbook of modern life’ text by Rosie Broadley (Lecturis, Eindhoven)
  • 2016 ‘Humphrey Ocean: A collection’ text by Desmond Shawe-Taylor (Artisan Books)
  • 2018 ‘Humphrey Ocean I've No Idea Either' (Sims Reed Gallery, London)
  • 2019 Humphrey Ocean, Monograph with essay by Ben Thomas (RA Publications)
  • 2019 Humphrey Ocean A Book of Birds (RA Publications)

Public Collections

  • British Council
  • British Museum, London
  • Bruges-Zeebrugge Port Authority
  • Christ Church, Oxford
  • Ferens Art Gallery, Hull
  • The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge
  • Government Art Collection
  • Graves Gallery, Sheffield
  • Hertford College, Oxford
  • Imperial War Museum, London
  • Jesus College, Cambridge
  • Magdalen College, Oxford
  • National Maritime Museum, Greenwich
  • National Portrait Gallery, London
  • Nuffield College, Oxford
  • Pallant House Gallery, Chichester
  • Royal Academy of Arts, London
  • Royal Library, Windsor Castle
  • Royal Society of Chemistry, London
  • St John’s College, Cambridge
  • National Galleries Scotland: Portrait, Edinburgh
  • South London Gallery, London
  • University of Birmingham
  • University of East Anglia
  • Victoria & Albert Museum, London
  • Wellcome Collection, London
  • The Whitworth, University of Manchester
  • Wolfson College, Cambridge
  • Wolverhampton Art Gallery


Paul Fussell, 'Farewell to a Cute, Quaint, Complacent Land', The Guardian, 1 July 1992
Ralph Glasser, 'Moment of Reflection Before a Mirror of the Soul', Scotland on Sunday, 30 May 1993
Tom Lubbock, 'Who Wants a Portrait . . .?' The Observer, 11 August 1996
Marcus Field, 'urbasuburba', Blueprint, London, September 1997
Robert Clark, 'Twin Peaks', The Guardian, 7 October 1997
Tom Lubbock, 'Something There is That Does Love a Wall', The Independent, 7 October 1997
Colin Wiggins, 'urbasuburba', Contemporary Visual Arts Issue 16, London, Winter 1997
David Cohen, 'Pleasing States of Decay', New Statesman, London, 30 January 1998
William Packer, 'Disquiet in the Cityscape', Financial Times, 3 February 1998
Judith Bumpus, 'Tuned in to the Hum of Life', RA Magazine, London, Spring 1998
John Cornall, 'From Maine to Mile End: Versions of the Real in recent American and British Art',
London Magazine Vol 38, No 314 June/July 1998
Karen Birmingham, 'The Science of Art and Vice Versa', Nature Medicine, New York, Vol 4 No 6 June 1998
Tim Johnson, 'The Eyes Have It', The Guardian, 19 November 1998
Sarah Hall, 'Science Throws New Light on the Artistic Eye', The Guardian, 1 March 1999
Richard Dorment, 'Sights and Sounds of the Sea', The Daily Telegraph, 24 March 1999
William Packer, 'Awash with Sea Visions', Financial Times, 30 March 1999
Roger Highfield, 'Seen Through The Eyes of an Artist', The Daily Telegraph, 14 April 1999
Steve Connor, 'I Think Therefore I Paint', The Independent, 16 April 1999
Rachel Campbell-Johnston, 'In the Eye of the Beholder', The Times, 20 April 1999
Tom Lubbock, 'The Call of the Weird', The Independent, 20 April 1999
William Packer, 'In the Eye of the Beholder', Financial Times, 20 April 1999
Laura Cumming, 'Portrait of the Artist as a Scientific Curiosity' Observer', 25 April 1999
Charles Darwent, 'If You Want To Get Ahead Get a Different Sort of Brain', Independent On Sunday, 25 April 1999
Alan Riding, 'Hypothesis: The Artist Does See Things Differently', The New York Times, 4 May 1999
Colin Martin, 'Taking A Line For A Walk', The Lancet', Vol 353, 15 May 1999
Trevor W. Robbins, 'A Map of Babel', Science, Vol 288, 21 April 2000
Charles Saumarez Smith, 'Is the Portrait a Dead Art?' The Sunday Telegraph, 29 October 2000
R.C. Miall and John Tchalenko, 'A Painter's Eye Movements: A Study of Eye and Hand Movement during Portrait Drawing' Leonardo', San Francisco, Vol 34 No 1 pp35-40, 2001
Nick Hornby, 'My mate Humphrey', The Independent on Sunday, 13 July 2003
Rachel Campbell-Johnston, 'London Choice', The Times, 2 August 2003
Derwent May, 'A Gentle Splash', The Times, 13 August 2003
David Frazer Jenkins, 'Humphrey Ocean in Dulwich', The British Art Journal, Vol4 No3, Autumn 2003
Sarah Greenberg, 'Man of Mystery', RA Magazine, Summer 2006
David Cannadine, 'A Picture of Change', BBC History Magazine, September 2006
Martin Gayford, 'Face Facts', RA Magazine, Spring 2006
Tim Leeman, '£5 millon Player Signs for Art's Premier League', The Times, 23 January 2008
Andrew Lambirth, 'Unholy Alliance', The Spectator, 4 November 2009
Christopher Lloyd, 'In Search of a Masterpiece', Thames and Hudson, 2011
Hossein Amirsadeghi, 'Sanctuary, British Artists in their Studios', Thames and Hudson, 2012
Richard Cork, 'Face to Face with Humphrey Ocean', RA Magazine, Winter 2012
Philip Hensher, Mail on Sunday, 24 June 2013
Christa Benzer, 'Spiel und Ernst der Wellen', Der Standard, 15 July 2017


  • Humphrey Ocean DKUK Peckham 'That was close' 14 January - 11 May 2024