Sir Alec Guinness
Sir Alec Guinness
by Lord Snowdon
gelatin silver print, 4 June 1979
16 in. x 11 7/8 in. (407 mm x 303 mm) paper size; 16 in. x 11 1/4 in. (407 mm x 285 mm) image size
Given by Antony Charles Robert Armstrong Jones, 1st Earl of Snowdon, 2013
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
In 1979, the year of this photograph, Guinness played the inscrutable George Smiley in John le Carré's Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, which was followed in 1981 by Smiley's People. Snowdon's first Vogue commission in 1956 resulted in a closely-cropped grainy portrait of Guinness in Hotel Paradiso which typified a break with tradition.
Subjects & Themesback to top
Events of 1979back to top
Current affairsMargaret Thatcher becomes the first woman Prime Minster. She came to power with the electoral slogan, 'Labour isn't working', and set about her aim to reverse Britain's economic decline by reducing the role of the state in the economy and championing entrepreneurship and the free market.
Art and scienceMonty Python's Life Of Brian, is released causing controversy, but gaining box-office success and classic status. The film is in many ways a classic farce, with much of its humour deriving from the mistaken identity of the protagonist, Brian Cohen. But, as his mother tells us: 'He's not the messiah, he's a very naughty boy.'
InternationalMother Teresa is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize 'for work undertaken in the struggle to overcome poverty and distress, which also constitute a threat to peace.' Mother Theresa established the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta, India; an organisation that pledged to give 'Wholehearted and Free service to the poorest of the poor.'
Soviet troops invade Afghanistan and begin a 10-year occupation, resisted by Mujaheddin Afghan guerrilla fighters.