by Allen Jones
oil on canvas, 1994
72 in. x 59 7/8 in. (1829 mm x 1521 mm)
This portraitback to top
A soloist at the Royal Ballet from 1988, Darcy Bussell was promoted to Principal for the leading role in Kenneth MacMillan's The Prince of the Pagodas (1989). Her classical repertoire includes Odette/Odile in Swan Lake and Princess Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty. In 1991 she created the role of Masha in MacMillan's Winter Dreams. Voted 'Dancer of the Year' in 1990, she is shown in this portrait en pointe.
Linked publicationsback to top
- I-Spy National Portrait Gallery, 2010, p. 55
- Audio Guide
- Smartify image discovery app
- Gibson, Robin, Treasures from the National Portrait Gallery, 1996, p. 133
- Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 93
- Various contributors, National Portrait Gallery: A Portrait of Britain, 2014, p. 249 Read entry
In 1989 Darcey Bussell became the youngest ever principal dancer at the Royal Ballet and went on to become one of the most highly acclaimed British ballerinas of her generation. She performed in The Prince of the Pagodas as Princess Rose, a role she created as the last muse of choreographer Sir Kenneth MacMillan. Bussell established herself as a dancer of artistic significance in MacMillan’s Manon in 1992. During her ballet career she performed all the major roles in the classical repertoire, including Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty and Odette/Odile in Swan Lake, with companies including the Kirov and New York City Ballet. Since retiring in 2002, she has appeared as a judge on the BBC competitive series, Strictly Come Dancing.
The portrait was commissioned from the artist Allen Jones (b.1937) in 1994, at a time when Bussell’s popularity was helping to revive the fortunes of the Royal Ballet at Covent Garden. Jones had risen to prominence in the 1960s, and his highly sexualised depictions of women often proved controversial. Bussell posed over seven evenings at the artist’s studio, following a day’s rehearsal at the Royal Ballet. She admired the physicality of Jones’s depiction, and the sense that she was ‘going somewhere’.
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Events of 1994back to top
Current affairsThe Queen opens the Channel Tunnel. After seven years of digging, various financial hold-ups and technical difficulties, a long-awaited rail link is created between Britain and France. The tunnel is 31 miles long with 24 miles under the sea, the longest under-sea tunnel in the world.
Art and scienceTrevor Bayliss starts production of his clockwork radio. The innovation is a fantastic example of simple environmentally friendly design and has been found particularly useful in areas where there is no electricity supply, such as remote communities in Africa.
Blur release their classic Britpop album depicting London life, Parklife.
InternationalViolence breaks out in Rwanda. An estimated 800,000 people were massacred in the Rwandan Genocide, most of them Tutsis, murdered by extremist Hutu militia groups.
South Africa holds its first democratic elections in which full enfranchisement is granted. The African National Congress led by Nelson Mandela won the majority of the vote, and Mandela became the country's first black State President.
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