Craigie Aitchison

1 portrait on display in Room 32 at the National Portrait Gallery

Craigie Aitchison, by Craigie Aitchison, circa late 1950s-early 1960s - NPG 6933 - © estate of Craigie Aitchison / Bridgeman Art Library

© estate of Craigie Aitchison / Bridgeman Art Library

Craigie Aitchison

by Craigie Aitchison
oil on canvas, circa late 1950s-early 1960s
24 in. x 20 in. (610 mm x 508 mm)
Purchased with help from Terence and Angela Danziger Miles and Sir Paul Smith, 2012
Primary Collection
NPG 6933

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Craigie Aitchison usually painted visionary and religious subjects, as well as rendering motifs such as trees, birds and dogs in radiant colours. At the height of his career, shortly after having been elected a member of the Royal Academy of Arts, Aitchison slashed through the face on this self-portrait when a studio visitor remarked that the portrait was flattering. Aitchison subsequently had it restored, but ensured that the marks left by the lacerations remained. Obviously sensitive to the scrutiny of others, perhaps he felt that his actions had improved the portrait by presenting a more fallible human being.

Events of 1957back to top

Current affairs

Harold 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.

Art and science

The Today Programme is first broadcast on Radio 4. This early morning current affairs programme is known for breaking major stories early, and for its hard-hitting approach and touch interviewing style. Presenters have included: Robert Robinson, Brian Redhead, Libby Purves, Jenni Murray, Sue MacGregor, John Humphrys, Anna Ford and James Naughtie.


The Treaty of Rome leads to the formation of the European Economic Community. Officially beginning on 1st January 1958, the EEC established a European Common Market, where goods, services, labour and capital could move freely within the European member countries, and shared policies were agreed for labour, social welfare, agriculture, transport, and foreign trade. The EEC preceded the European Community, and the European Union.

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