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Martin Cyril D'Arcy

3 of 10 portraits by Richard Avedon

© Richard Avedon Foundation

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Martin Cyril D'Arcy

by Richard Avedon
bromide print, 1958
6 in. x 6 in. (152 mm x 152 mm)
Purchased, 1984
Primary Collection
NPG P235

Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

  • Richard Avedon (1923-2004), Fashion photographer. Artist of 10 portraits, Sitter in 2 portraits.

This portraitback to top

Photographed in New York City.

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. 279 Read entry

    As lecturer and tutor at Oxford in the 1920s and 1930s Father D’Arcy became the foremost English apologist for Roman Catholicism, and brought into that church a stream of notable converts, of whom the most celebrated was Evelyn Waugh. So much so that Muriel Spark in one of her novels described the process of conversion as ‘doing a D’Arcy’. Both in his writing and his preaching he worked with all the force of his magnetic personality to stir the emotions; he was a brilliant conversationalist, and in appearance strikingly idiosyncratic. In 1945 he left his beloved Oxford to become head of the English Jesuit province, but in 1950 was relieved of this post. The rest of his life was clouded by this humiliation. He was out of step with post-war England, and spent much of his later years in America, where he felt he was better understood and appreciated.

    Richard Avedon was born in New York City, and studied photography at the New School for Social Research. He set up his own studio in 1946, and worked freelance for numerous periodicals, including Life and Harper’s Bazaar. He has been staff photographer for Theatre Arts and Vogue, and is one of America’s most distinguished portraitists, whose style can be dramatic but is always clinical. He has written of his work – and his remarks illuminate this portrait of D’Arcy – ‘A photographic portrait is a picture of someone who knows he’s being photographed, and what he does with this knowledge is as much a part of the photograph as what he’s wearing or how he looks ... We all perform ... I trust performances’.

  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 164

Placesback to top

Events of 1958back to top

Current affairs

Britain's first motorway is built. The Preston bypass (M6) was the first road to be built to official motorway standards, although the M1 (opened in 1959) was the first road to be given official status. The road was opened by the Prime minister, Harold Macmillan, and heralded a new age of mass, high-speed motoring.

Art and science

Michael Bond publishes A Bear Called Paddington, the first Paddington Bear book. This popular character is remembered for being found at Paddington Station by the Brown family, for wearing a floppy hat, duffle coat and Wellington boots, and for his penchant for marmalade sandwiches.
The children's television programme, Blue Peter, is broadcast for the first time.


Following the USSR's successful launch of the Sputnik 1 satellite in 1957, America launches its own space agency, NASA. Under pressure from the Soviets' early lead, NASA began research into human spaceflight. The competition between the two superpowers to explore outer space, send humans beyond the Earth's orbit and land on the moon was known as the 'space race'.

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