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Gordon Craig

© The Estate of Edward Steichen/ARS, NY and DACS, London 2018

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Gordon Craig

by Edward Steichen
photogravure, 1913
7 7/8 in. x 6 3/8 in. (200 mm x 162 mm)
Purchased, 1983
Primary Collection
NPG P228

Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

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. 171 Read entry

    Edward Gordon Craig was the son of the architect E. W. Godwin and the great actress Ellen Terry, and his life was lived in or around the theatre. He had abundant natural talent as an actor, but turned early on to stage design. From the first his productions broke with popular pictorial realism, and were distinguished by brilliance, originality and economy of effect. A man of many love affairs and seemingly even more children, in 1905 he left England for good, and took up with the experimental dancer Isadora Duncan; this was the beginning of a rich period in his work, which saw him working with Eleonora Duse in Florence and Stanislavsky in Moscow. In 1911 he published On the Art of the Theatre, in which he put forward his concept of a unified theatrical experience controlled by one mastermind, the designer-director.

    Edward Steichen was one of the greatest photographers of all time, who after the Second World War was appointed Director of the Department of Photography at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. He had a superb sense of design and, as is seen in his portrait of Craig, he delighted in capturing almost imperceptible forms as they emerged from shadow. For this theatrical subject, he creates an especially theatrical effect: Craig is caught, turning in a moment of unexplained drama, in a shaft of light - a device he used in his own productions. This gravure was published in Alfred Stieglitz's quarterly Camera Work in July 1913.

  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 150

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.


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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