Dame Sybil Thorndike
Photograph © National Portrait Gallery, London
Dame Sybil Thorndike
by Sir Jacob Epstein
bronze bust, 1925
19 5/8 in. x 24 3/8 in. (500 mm x 620 mm) overall
Given by the sitter's son, on behalf of the Casson family, John Casson, 1988
Click on the links below to find out more:
Sitterback to top
- Dame Sybil Thorndike (1882-1976), Actress; wife of Sir Lewis Casson. Sitter in 45 portraits.
Artistback to top
- Sir Jacob Epstein (1880-1959), Sculptor. Artist of 14 portraits, Sitter in 68 portraits.
This portraitback to top
This portrait of the actress Sybil Thorndike was commissioned by her family to commemorate her performance as Joan of Arc in George Bernard Shaw's play Saint Joan, a role that had been specifically written for her. Her pose is very similar to that adopted in publicity shots for the production. Her eyes are fixed heavenward and her head strains forward, beyond the viewer, in a gesture of rapt attention, 'gazing skywards as if hearing voices '. This sense of divine mission is further emphasised by the height at which Epstein requested the bust be displayed: a minimum of five feet from the floor.
Linked publicationsback to top
- Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 615
Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top
- Jacob Epstein: Portrait Sculptor (30 March 2013 - 24 November 2013)
Events of 1925back to top
Current affairsOn the advice of the Governor of the Bank of England, Montagu Norman, Winston Churchill returns British currency to the Gold Standard. This caused deflation across the empire as the value of the pound returned to the pre-war gold price, leading to unemployment, the miners' strike and the general strike in 1926.
Art and scienceJohn Logie Baird transmits the first television images of a ventriloquist's dummy. The BBC used Logie Baird's invention from 1927 until 1935 when they adopted EMI-Marconi's superior electronic scanning system.
Virginia Woolf publishes her innovative 'stream of consciousness' novel, Mrs Dalloway, which chronicles a day in the life of the protagonist through her interior monologue.