by Sylvia Plath
pen and ink, circa 1957
8 3/8 in. x 5 1/8 in. (213 mm x 130 mm)
Purchased with help from Mrs T.S. Eliot, the Art Fund, and Roy Davids, 2005
Click on the links below to find out more:
Artistback to top
- Sylvia Plath (1932-1963), Poet and writer. Artist of 1 portrait, Sitter in 4 portraits.
This portraitback to top
The only known drawing of Ted Hughes by his wife the writer Sylvia Plath, this evocative portrait was executed in pen and ink on a numbered sheet, presumably from one of the books used by Plath for her journal. It was made in about 1957, when Hughes began to gain critical recognition for his first collection of poems, Hawk in the Rain. It therefore depicts him at the moment of his emergence as a poet of the first rank, and in the year after Hughes's marriage to Plath. He preserved this image, having destroyed other personal paper belonging to their turbulent relationship which ended with Plath's suicide in 1963. Hughes later gave the drawing to Roy Davids, as documented by an inscription on the verso. The drawing may also therefore be seen as a vital document of an important and much debated literary relationship.
Linked publicationsback to top
- National Portrait Gallery: 100 Portraits, p. 120
- Various contributors, National Portrait Gallery: A Portrait of Britain, 2014, p. 221
Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top
- Life lines: Recently acquired 20th Century drawings (31 October 2009 - 25 April 2010)
- Portraits on paper (29 July 2006 - 3 December 2006)
Events of 1957back to top
Current affairsHarold Macmillan takes over as Conservative prime minister, manoeuvring Eden out of power after his poor handling of the Suez Crisis the previous year.
The Wolfenden Report recommends that homosexuality should no longer be a criminal offence. It still took ten years, however, before any changes were made to the law on homosexuality with the Sexual Offences Act in 1967.