Angus McBean Photograph. © Harvard Theatre Collection, Harvard University.
by Angus McBean
bromide print, 1949
23 3/8 in. x 19 1/8 in. (594 mm x 485 mm)
Sitterback to top
- Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie (née Miller) (1890-1976), Writer; former wife of Archibald Christie, and later wife of Sir Max Mallowan. Sitter in 26 portraits.
Artistback to top
- Angus McBean (1904-1990), Photographer. Artist associated with 273 portraits, Sitter in 79 portraits.
Linked publicationsback to top
- Birkett, Dea; Morris, Jan (foreword), Off the Beaten Track: Three Centuries of Women Travellers, 2004 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 7 July to 31 October 2004), p. 105
- Parris, Matthew, Heroes and Villains: Scarfe at the National Portrait Gallery, 2003 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 30 September 2003 to 4 April 2004), p. 51
- Pepper, Terence, Angus McBean Portraits, 2006 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 5 July to 22 October 2006), p. 93 Read entry
Christie, the creator of the fictional crime-solvers Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, was the author of over 150 crime novels as well as fifteen plays. This photograph is one of the remarkably few official photographs of the camera-shy writer. McBean, who was also to photograph another female crime writer, Ngaio Marsh, had a particular interest in detective novels. His own brushes with crime included a confrontation in his studio with a burglar, who attempted to attack him with an ice pick. On another occasion McBean took a sitting with an undistinguished-looking man, who subsequently turned out to be the 'Acid Bath Murderer' John George Haigh (1909-49). This led to the profitable publication of the photographs in the News of the World, along with McBean’s anecdotal account of the sitting.
Events of 1949back to top
Current affairsFollowing the Republic of Ireland Act in 1948, the Irish Free State becomes the Republic of Ireland and leaves the Commonwealth. The functions previously given to the King were handed to the President of Ireland.
The Second Parliament Act diminishes the power of the House of Lords, reducing their authority to delay bills from two years to one.
Art and scienceGeorge Orwell publishes his dystopian novel, 1984. The book imagines a future where totalitarian governments rule; their power based on continual war abroad, and overwhelming propaganda and surveillance at home. With 'Big Brother' keeping a constant check on the citizens' actions and thoughts, the individual loses the faculties of free will and independent thought.
InternationalThe People's Republic of China is created after the Communist Party wins the Civil War. China became a communist country under Mao Zedong.
Cold War tensions increase as Germany is split into the democratic Federal Republic of Germany in the west (a union of the post-war British, French and American sectors), and the communist German Democratic Republic, in the east.