The Gallery’s long interest in the life and career of British film-stills photographer Fred Daniels began in 1988, with the important acquisition of works from the photographer’s widow Nancy Eckert. In 2010, Nigel Arthur, BFI Stills Curator, was awarded a grant from the Understanding British Portraits Network to research Daniels’s work more fully, particularly with new information from his son, Jonty. Since then we have discovered many unknown studies by Daniels that were published in leading society magazines of the 1940s and 1950s.
Daniels’s breakthrough into a career in film was previously thought to have begun with E.A Dupont’s film Piccadilly (1929) and Atlantic (1930) but our new research revealed two earlier studies reproduced in The Tatler (October 26 1927) showing Monica Linden, star of George Leyton’s 1927 film Lady Godiva.
Daniels’s earliest publicity portraits for Powell and Pressburger to appear in print include a study of Laurence Olivier in character for the 49th Parallel (The Tatler and Bystander, February 1941). Tracing Daniels’s published work has enabled us to discover such alternative poses from sittings represented in our current display, and also previously lost or unattributed portraits. Personal highlights among these recently discovered portraits include ballerina Betty von Furstenberg, photographed in London in 1950 after filming Radvanyi’s Woman in the Shadows in Italy (Tatler and Bystander, February 1 1950) and Glynis Johns photographed with her five year old son Gareth inside Daniels’s self-designed Frank Lloyd Wright inspired home, The White House (Tatler and Bystander, 13 September 1950).
The last published work we have found by Daniels includes photographic subjects reinterpreted as drawings, notably Laurence Olivier (The Tatler, 10 Jan 1951) and Elizabeth Bergner’s famous pose in Escape Me Never (The Tatler, 28 Feb 28 1951). Documenting Daniels’s published work and recording its original context, adds new depth to our knowledge of this previously lesser-known pioneer of early British stills photography.
Image Credit (from top to bottom)
Freddie Young; Herbert Wilcox; Anton Walbrook (Adolf Wohlbruck) as Prince Albert; Anna Neagle as Queen Victoria by Fred Daniels, cream-toned vintage bromide print, 1937, NPG x32925
Glynis John by Fred Daniels, NPG Archives
Betty von Furstenberg by Fred Daniels, NPG Archives
As part of the display Fred Daniels: Cinema Portraits