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Aldous Huxley

1 portrait of Man Ray

© Man Ray Trust/ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2018

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Aldous Huxley

by Man Ray
bromide print, 26 November 1934
11 5/8 in. x 9 1/4 in. (295 mm x 235 mm)
Purchased, 1988
Primary Collection
NPG P359

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Huxley sat for the photographer at 12 Bedford Square, Man Ray's temporary studio in London. His chronically poor eyesight is indicated by the magnification of his eyes through the spectacle lenses. Ray's imaginative and technical originality is also evident where the subtleties of light and shade can produce the focused solidity of Aldous Huxley.

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  • Rogers, Malcolm, Camera Portraits, 1989 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 20 October 1989 - 21 January 1990), p. 215 Read entry

    Of formidable intellectual descent - he was the son of the writer Leonard Huxley, grand-son of T. H. Huxley, great-grandson of Dr Thomas Arnold, and nephew of Mrs Humphrey Ward - Aldous Huxley, while still an undergraduate of Balliol College, Oxford, was taken up by Philip Morrell and his wife Lady Ottoline. At their home, Garsington Manor, this virtually blind young man was introduced to the up-and-coming writers and artists of the day. In 1921 he published his first novel Crome Yellow, to an extent based on his experiences with the Morrells, the first of a succession which were to make him something of a hero with the young. (1928) was a best-seller in England and America, and his utopian fantasy Brave New World appeared in 1932. In 1938 he settled in America, where his eye-sight improved and he published The Art of Seeing (1942). His later interest in psychedelic drugs such as LSD led to The Doors of Perception (1954) which again brought him a cult following.

    The American Man Ray (born Emmanuel Rudnitsky in Philadelphia) was one of the century's leading experimental photographers. He lived for much of his career as an émigré in Paris, and there photographed many of the leading writers and artists of the day. He was one of the first photographers to reject 'soft focus', and, under the influence of Dadaism, laid great stress on spontaneity. According to a contemporary, Huxley was so tall that he had to 'fold himself and his legs, like some gigantic grass-hopper, into a chair', and Man Ray, in this otherwise simple portrait, makes something of this effect.

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Current affairs

Sir Stafford Cripps represents the miners of Gresford Colliery in Wrexham at an inquiry into the recent gas explosion and fire which killed 263 miners, and three rescue workers in one of the worst mining disasters in British history.

Art and science

Percy Shaw invents 'Cat's eyes'. The development of road reflectors increased safety on the roads at night and proved to be particularly useful during the wartime blackout. They are still used today.
Dylan Thomas published his first volume of poetry, 18 Poems.


Stalin and Hitler consolidate dictatorial power by 'purging' their opponents. In the Soviet Union, members of the Communist Party and particular sectors of society such as the intelligentsia were targeted in the 'Great Purge', while in Germany Hitler murdered hundreds of potential opponents in the SA during the 'Night of the Long Knives'.
Thousands in the USA are forced to flee their homes to escape the Dust Bowl storms.

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