The Gallery holds the most extensive collection of portraits in the world. Search over 215,000 works, 150,000 of which are illustrated from the 16th Century to the present day.

Advanced Collection search

Eugène Ionesco

© National Portrait Gallery, London

 Like voting
is closed

Thanks for Liking

Please Like other favourites!
If they inspire you please support our work.

Buy a print Make a donation Close
  • Buy a print
  • Use this image
  • ShareShare this

Eugène Ionesco

by Ida Kar
vintage bromide print, 1960
9 3/4 in. x 9 3/4 in. (247 mm x 248 mm)
Purchased, 1999
Photographs Collection
NPG x127776

Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

  • Ida Kar (1908-1974), Photographer. Artist associated with 1564 portraits, Sitter in 137 portraits.

This portraitback to top

Romanian-born Ionesco is seen at his writing desk; on the right hangs a poster for his play, Victims of Duty (1953), and on the left are copies of The Possessed by Dostoevsky. At the time of the opening of Kar's Whitechapel exhibition, Ionesco's Rhinocéros (1959) was being staged at the Royal Court Theatre, directed by Orson Welles.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Freestone, Clare (appreciation) Wright, Karen (appreciation), Ida Kar Bohemian Photographer, 2011 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 10 March to 19 June 2011), p. 108 Read entry

    Romanian-born lonesco grew up in France, returning to Bucharest in 1925. After obtaining a degree in French at the University of Bucharest, he studied for a doctorate in Paris, where he eventually settled. lonesco's first play La cantatrice chauve (The Bald Soprano, 1949) revolutionised dramatic techniques and helped launch the Theatre of the Absurd. His avant-garde style dramatised the futility of social conventions and attacked totalitarianism and conformity. Along with Samuel Beckett and Jean Genet, who lived and worked in Paris during the same period, he remains one of the most important dramatists of the twentieth century. lonesco was elected to the Académie Française in 1970. In Kar's portrait he appears at his writing desk. On the right hangs a poster for his play Victimes du devoir (Victims of Duty, 1953), and on his desk are copies of The Possessed by Fyodor Dostoevsky, in which lonesco played the role of Stepan Trofimovich. At the time of the opening of Kar's Whitechapel exhibition, lonesco's Rhinocéros (1959) was presented at the Royal Court Theatre, directed by Orson Welles.

Events of 1960back to top

Current affairs

Prince Andrew is born, the third child of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip.
The Contraceptive Pill is introduced in England, dramatically changing the nation's approach to sex and relationships, and significantly contributing to the 1960s culture of liberation.

Art and science

Penguin books defend D.H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover against charges of obscenity by demonstrating that the novel was of literary merit. The 'not guilty' verdict was seen as a victory for free speech and marked the beginning if a new era of liberalism.
The satirical revue Beyond the Fringe launches the careers of Alan Bennett, Peter Cook, Dudley Moore and Jonathan Miller.


Harold Macmillan delivers his 'wind of change' speech to the South African Parliament in Cape Town, announcing Britain's decision to grant independence to many of her colonies. The speech recognised the emergence of African nationalism, and criticised the policy of Apartheid in South Africa.

Tell us more back to top

Can you tell us more about this portrait? Spotted an error, information that is missing (a sitter’s life dates, occupation or family relationships, or a date of portrait for example) or do you know anything that we don't know? If you have information to share please complete the form below.

If you require information from us, please use our Archive enquiry service. You can buy a print of most illustrated portraits. Select the portrait of interest to you, then look out for a Buy a Print button. Prices start at £6 for unframed prints, £25 for framed prints. If you wish to license this image, please use our Rights and Images service.

Please note that we cannot provide valuations.

We digitise over 8,000 portraits a year and we cannot guarantee being able to digitise images that are not already scheduled.

What can you tell us?close

There are occasions when we are unsure of the identity of a sitter or artist, their life dates, occupation or have not recorded their family relationships. Sometimes we have not recorded the date of a portrait. Do you have specialist knowledge or a particular interest about any aspect of the portrait or sitter or artist that you can share with us? We would welcome any information that adds to and enhances our information and understanding about a particular portrait, sitter or artist.


How do you know this? Please could you let us know your source of information.

* Permission to publish (Privacy information)
Privacy Informationclose

The National Portrait Gallery will NOT use your information to contact you or store for any other purpose than to investigate or display your contribution. By ticking permission to publish you are indicating your agreement for your contribution to be shown on this collection item page. Please note your email address will not be displayed on the page nor will it be used for any marketing material or promotion of any kind.

Please ensure your comments are relevant and appropriate. Your contributions must be polite and with no intention of causing trouble. All contributions are moderated.

Your Emailclose

Contributions are moderated. We'll need your email address so that we can follow up on the information provided and contact you to let you know when your contribution has been published.

Get Creative

Develop your art skills

Discover our BP Next Generation short films made by artists. Follow step by step guides in drawing and painting techniques.

Improve your skills

Hold Still

Hold Still photography workshop

Reflect on your own experiences of lockdown through this easy-to-do from home, photographic exercise. 

Watch the video

Draw Like a Renaissance Master

Revisit The Encounter exhibition and learn about Renaissance and Baroque drawing methods and materials.

Improve your technique