by Mayotte Magnus
bromide print, August 1976
15 5/8 in. x 11 3/4 in. (400 mm x 297 mm)
Sitterback to top
- (Agnes) Elisabeth Lutyens (1906-1983), Composer and musician; daughter of Sir Edwin Landseer Lutyens. Sitter in 11 portraits.
Artistback to top
- Mayotte Magnus (1934-), Photographer; wife of Jorge ('J.S.') Lewinski. Artist of 82 portraits, Sitter in 2 portraits.
This portraitback to top
Magnus’s linear composition refers to Lutyens’ pioneering use of a serial technique. She was photographed in her North London home during her seventieth year, in which her lyric drama Iris and Osiris was first performed.
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. 293 Read entry
Elisabeth Lutyens, one of the first and most important English composers to adopt 12-note techniques, was the daughter of the architect Sir Edwin Lutyens. She studied composition at the Royal College of Music and the Paris Conservatoire. Though at first she worked in a late romantic style, she soon realized that her true idiom lay in serialism, and with typical decisiveness discarded fifty of her early works. An abrasive character, she dismissed the prevalent fashions in English composition as ‘cow-pat music’, and spent much of her time until the late 1950s in artistic isolation. Her works include six chamber concertos (1939-45), more than two hundred radio scores (including collaborations with Dylan Thomas and Louis MacNeice), and an opera Time Off? Not the Ghost of a Chance (1972), a virtuoso collage of music, pre-recorded tapes, dance and speech. But her greatest gifts were as a miniaturist in the manner of Webern and in the setting of words (usually for small choirs), tackling texts which range from Chaucer to Stevie Smith, and include African poems, letters by Flaubert, Japanese haiku and the writings of Wittgenstein.
Mayotte Magnus is the French-born wife of Jorge Lewinski. She took up photography in 1970, winning a major Ilford photographic prize two years later. In recent years she has collaborated with her husband on a series of photographically illustrated books, and has worked for magazines, including Harpers & Queen and Fortune. This portrait was taken for her exhibition ‘Women’ at the National Portrait Gallery in 1977, and shows Lutyens at her home in North London in the year of the first production of the ritualistic drama Isis and Osiris, in a composition of hieratic stylization.
Placesback to top
- Place made and portrayed: United Kingdom: England, London (sitter's home, North London)
Subjects & Themesback to top
Events of 1976back to top
Current affairsHarold Wilson unexpectedly resigns as Prime Minister and is replaced by Leonard James Callaghan. Wilson's resignation honours list caused controversy due to the appearance of a number of wealthy businessmen whose principles were considered anathema to those of the party. It became known as the 'Lavender List' after it was alleged that it was drafted by Marcia Williams, the head of Wilson's political office, on lavender-coloured notepaper.
Art and scienceThe first commercial Concorde flights are made, operated by British Airways and Air France. The supersonic (faster than the speed of sound) aeroplane was developed through a British and French treaty, and operated until 2003 when it was retired due to falling passenger numbers following a crash in 2000.
The National Theatre opens on the South Bank in London under the artistic directorship of Lord Olivier.
InternationalNorth Vietnam invades and overpowers South Vietnam, reunifying the country as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam under communist rule.
240,000 people die in the Tangshan Earthquake in China; one of the greatest death tolls from an earthquake in history. The event was part of the 'Curse of 1976', a year that also saw the death of Mao Zedong, and the attempted seizure of power by the Gang of Four.
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