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Rupert Brooke

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Rupert Brooke

by Sherrill Schell
glass positive, April 1913
12 in. x 10 in. (305 mm x 254 mm)
Given by Emery Walker Ltd, 1956
Primary Collection
NPG P101(e)

Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

  • Sherrill Schell (1877-1964), Photographer. Artist associated with 28 portraits.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Crane, David; Judd, Alan, First World War Poets, 2014, p. 23
  • Judd, Alan; Crane, David, Character Sketches: First World War Poets, 1997, p. 17
  • Rogers, Malcolm, Camera Portraits, 1989 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 20 October 1989 - 21 January 1990), p. 169 Read entry

    According to Henry James the poet Rupert Brooke was 'a creature on whom the gods had smiled their brightest', and he was famous for his great good looks, personal charm and literary promise. His early death in the First World War at Scyros only served to intensify his mythical quality. It was Francis Meynell, the son of the poet Alice Meynell, who suggested to the American photographer Schell that he photograph 'the beautiful Rupert Brooke'. Schell was amused at the idea that any man should be 'beautiful', 'visualizing in spite of myself a sort of male Gladys Cooper or a Lady Diana Manners in tweed cap and plus fours'. But he found Brooke 'a genial, wholesome fellow entirely unspoiled by all the adoration and admiration he had received … in short a type of all round fellow that only England seems to produce'.

    In the spring of 1913 Schell was living in a flat in St George's Square, Pimlico, and there in the living room, on a foggy day and without any artificial light, he photographed Brooke, who came to him

    dressed in a suit of homespun, with a blue shirt and blue necktie. The tie was a curious affair, a long piece of silk wide enough for a muffler, tied like the ordinary four-in-hand. On any other person this costume would have seemed somewhat outré, but in spite of its carefully studied effect it gave him no touch of eccentricity …. His face was more remarkable for its expression and colouring than for its modelling. His complexion was not the ordinary pink and white ... but ruddy and tanned. His hair, a golden brown with sprinklings of red. … The lines of his face were not faultless … he had narrowly escaped being snubnosed.

    In all Schell took some dozen exposures of Brooke that day (each demanding 'one whole minute without the least change of expression'), and seven glass positives made by Sir Emery Walker from his negatives belong to the Gallery.

Events of 1913back to top

Current affairs

The Suffragette, Emily Davison dies after stepping out in front of the King's horse as a protest at the Epsom Derby. In the same year the Liberal government passed the Cat and Mouse Act allowing them to release and re-arrest Suffragettes who went on hunger strike while in prison. Davidson, herself, had been on hunger strike and was force-fed while detained at Holloway Prison.

Art and science

Stravinsky's ballet The Rite of Spring comes to London following its premier at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris. Audiences were shocked by Stravinsky's rhythmic and dissonant musical score and by the violent jerky dancing of Sergei Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, which were intended to represent pagan ritual.

International

Henry Ford introduces the assembly line at the Ford Motor Company, rapidly increasing the rate at which the famous Model T could be manufactured, leading to massive growth in the motorcar industry and demonstrating to other industries the efficiency of mass production.

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