Copying Evelyn Waugh

What am I Looking For?

Out of ideas for a present for a friend, I decided on a print from the National Portrait Gallery.

I could have spent forever trawling the huge collection from the National Portrait Gallery's web site — so many portraits are available for printing using their 'award-wining Portrait Printer system' in which portrait images are printed on demand 'in their original proportions within a white border on a selection of standard paper sizes or canvas.' 

But it's the devil of a job locating what you're looking for if you're not sure what you're looking for in the first place.

After considering several by Angus McBean, I went for the photograph you can see above of Evelyn Waugh by (Madame) Yevonde Middleton. My friend is a fan of the City look, though I'm not sure what he thinks about having Evelyn Waugh hanging on his wall. The photo has it all though — pinstripe suit, brolly, bowler hat and cigar.

I was rather taken by a couple more of Madame Levonde's photos — the one below of actress Joan Maude (1932) from Powell and Pressburger's A Matter of Life and Death in particular. I'm considering them as further gifts.

Yevonde Middleton was an English society portrait photographer who was active from the Edwardian era right up to her death in the 1970s. She's best known for her work in the 1930s, in particular the Goddesses series for which she had guests at a party, who were dressed as gods and goddesses, pose for her.

The photograph of Mrs Edward Meyer as Medusa (below) is quite breathtaking — remember this is 1935.

Mesmerising — I look at it and all the world is a rhyme.

William Eggleston

On the subject of the National Portrait Gallery, they've been exhibiting the work of William Eggleston (pictured below in a very nice sweater and jacket combo) since July, and — apologies for not mentioning sooner — it finishes at the end of the week.

Do hurry along if you haven't visited.

Yevonde was a pioneer of colour photography, using an early British process called Vivex, where the image was built up from three exposures in each primary colour. Similarly, William used a special colouring technique called dye-transfer (described in the video below). Both processes, despite the glorious end results, are now sadly defunct.


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