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Benjamin Britten

10 of 117 portraits of Benjamin Britten

Benjamin Britten, by Yousuf Karsh, 1954 - NPG P490(14) - © Karsh / Camera Press

© Karsh / Camera Press

Benjamin Britten

by Yousuf Karsh
bromide print, 1954
13 3/8 in. x 10 5/8 in. (339 mm x 269 mm)
Given by the photographer, Yousuf Karsh, 1991
Primary Collection
NPG P490(14)


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  • Yousuf Karsh (1908-2002), Photographer. Artist associated with 155 portraits, Sitter in 1 portrait.

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The work of Britain's most renowned composer of the post-War era ranges from opera, such as Peter Grimes (1945) and Billy Budd (1951) to song-cycles, the War Requiem (1961) and the popular Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra (1946). He was also the founder, in 1948, of the Aldeburgh Festival. In this photograph Britten is shown holding a dachshund and looking towards the score from his opera Gloriana (1953) which was written for the coronation of Elizabeth II. According to Karsh 'the dog demanded to become part of the picture. Britten swivelled on the piano seat to make room for his canine collaborator, who leaped into the safety of his arms, while yet casting a wary eye on me'. The dog is thought to be Clytie who was named after Clytie Mundy, the American singing teacher of Britten's companion, Peter Pears.