by Lord Snowdon
gelatin silver print, 1978
14 1/4 in. x 11 3/4 in. (362 mm x 297 mm) image size
Given by Antony Charles Robert Armstrong Jones, 1st Earl of Snowdon, 2013
Sitterback to top
- David Bowie (1947-2016), Singer, songwriter, performer and actor. Sitter in 19 portraits.
Artistback to top
- Antony Charles Robert Armstrong Jones, 1st Earl of Snowdon (1930-2017), Photographer, film-maker and designer; former husband of Princess Margaret. Artist of 285 portraits, Sitter in 22 portraits.
This portraitback to top
Published in Vogue, September 1978, with an interview by Jonathan Mantle who wrote: 'The ambiguity and mystery of his image have much to do with his ability to keep at least one jump ahead of his audience.'
Linked publicationsback to top
- 100 Photographs, 2018, p. 106 Read entry
Lord Snowdon (1930-2017), who was once married to Princess Margaret, sister of Queen Elizabeth II, photographed many celebrities and royalty of his day. The National Portrait Gallery holds a large collection of his work. This portrait of David Bowie (1947-2016), with its sensitive handling of light, shade, pose and framing, celebrates the musician’s androgynous elegance. A man of many guises, Bowie’s breakthrough came with his song Space Oddity (1969). Gaining prominence throughout the 1970s, his ever-evolving musical style and shifting personas were always conceptually informed. Bowie’s albums include The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972), Diamond Dogs (1974) and Let’s Dance (1983). As an actor, he starred in films that include The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976) and Labyrinth (1986), among others.
Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top
- Snowdon: A Life in View (26 September 2014 - 21 June 2015)
Events of 1978back to top
Current affairsThe country is brought to a virtual standstill as workers in the private and public sector strike over the government's decision to restrict wage increases. As more workers joined the strikes rubbish piled up in the streets, petrol stations ran short, and storage space had to be hired for unburied coffins. The period became known as the 'winter of discontent'.
Art and scienceLouise Brown from Oldham in Greater Manchester becomes the world's first 'test-tube baby'. The 'in vitro' fertilisation procedure was a scientific breakthrough that has given thousands of infertile couples the opportunity to conceive.
Iris Murdoch wins the Booker prize with her novel. The Sea, the Sea.
InternationalKarol Józef Wojtyla becomes Pope John Paul II. He was the only Polish Pope and the first non-Italian Pontiff since the 16th century. During his 26-year pontificate, John Paul was recognised for his efforts to reach out to other religions and his fight against poverty and oppression. He has also, however, been criticised for his conservative attitudes towards divorce, contraception, homosexual marriage and the ordination of women priests.
Listen to a series of podcasts exploring the lives of pioneering women, past and present.
William Eggleston was closely associated with the alternative music scene in Memphis. Revisit our 2016 exhibition and listen to a special playlist.
Links to audio and transcripts of interviews with artists, sitters and historic recordings.
- Private View
- Mad, Bad and Dangerous: The Cult of Lord Byron
- Snowdon: Iconic Images
- My Favourite Portrait by Harriet Walter
- In Close Up: Laurence Olivier
- Surreal and Solarised Photographs
- The Beautiful and the Damned
- Diana, Princess of Wales
- Britain 1960-1990
- Anthony Buckley
- Fashion Portraits: recent acquisitions
- Derry Moore Photographs