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Arnold Dolmetsch

6 of 56 portraits by Herbert Lambert

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Arnold Dolmetsch

by Herbert Lambert
bromide print, circa 1925
5 7/8 in. x 6 7/8 in. (149 mm x 175 mm)
Given by the photographer's daughter, Mrs Barbara Hardman, 1978
Primary Collection
NPG P108

Sitterback to top

  • Arnold Dolmetsch (1858-1940), Musician and historian of music. Sitter in 12 portraits.

Artistback to top

  • Herbert Lambert (1881-1936), Photographer; managing director of Elliott & Fry, 1926-1936. Artist associated with 56 portraits, Sitter in 3 portraits.

This portraitback to top

Born in France of Bohemian origin, Arnold Dolmetsch trained as a musical instrument maker with his father, and came to England about 1883. With the encouragement of Sir George Grove (of dictionary fame), he began his investigations into early English instrumental music and the way it was played. This led to the making of lutes, virginals, clavichords, hapsichords, recorders, viols and violins, which became his life's work. In 1925 he founded at Haslemere in Surrey, where he lived, an annual summer festival of early music. He is seen in this photograph playing one of his own lutes. Given by the photographer's daughter Mrs Barbara Hardman, 1978.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Rogers, Malcolm, Camera Portraits, 1989 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 20 October 1989 - 21 January 1990), p. 195 Read entry

    Born in France of Bohemian origin, Arnold Dolmetsch trained as a musical-instrument maker with his father, and came to England about 1883. With the encouragement of Sir George Grove (of dictionary fame), he began his investigations into early English instrumental music and the way it was played. This led to the making of lutes, virginals, clavichords, harpsichords, recorders, viols and violins, which became his life's work. In 1925, close to the time of this photograph, he founded at Haslemere, Surrey, where he lived, an annual summer festival of early music. Here he, his family and friends attempted to recreate historically authentic performances, but not for their own sake: 'This music is of absolute and not antiquarian importance; it must be played as the composer intended and on the instruments for which it was written with their correct technique; and through it personal music-making can be restored to the home, from which two centuries of professionalism have divorced it'.

    Herbert Lambert worked from 32 Milsom Street, Bath, but also had a studio in Bristol, and at 125 Cheyne Walk, London, where, according to his trade label, he was 'during the early part of each month for the purpose of taking a limited number of camera portraits by appointment'. He was appointed managing director of Elliott & Fry in 1926. He specialized in portraits of musicians, publishing his Modern British Composers in 1923. His book Studio Portrait Lighting is dedicated 'To my friend Marcus Adams. A master of the art herein treated'. This print, which shows Dolmetsch playing one of his own lutes, is part of a collection of Lambert's work donated to the Gallery by his daughter. It shows his own mastery of lighting, and ability to create a harmonious atmosphere which is almost audible. The Holbeinesque lettering is a characteristic touch.

Events of 1925back to top

Current affairs

On 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 science

John 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.

International

Sir Joseph Austen Chamberlain, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs represents Britain at the Locarno Treaties. Lorcano secured the post-war territorial settlement and established pledges of non-aggression between various European Nations. The 'spirit of Locarno' helped secure Germany's admission into the League of Nations in 1926. Chamberlain was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his part in the peace agreement.

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