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Sir Richard Rogers

3 of 33 portraits by Michael Birt

© Michael Birt

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Sir Richard Rogers

by Michael Birt
bromide print, 15 October 1982
9 1/2 in. x 9 5/8 in. (242 mm x 245 mm)
Purchased, 1984
Photographs Collection
NPG x23476

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  • Michael Birt (1953-), Photographer. Artist or producer of 33 portraits, Sitter in 3 portraits.

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  • Rogers, Malcolm, Camera Portraits, 1989 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 20 October 1989 - 21 January 1990), p. 297 Read entry

    Born in Florence of British parents, the architect Richard Rogers studied in London and at Yale. In the 1960s he worked for a time with Norman Foster, and in 1970 formed a partnership with Renzo Piano, with offices in London, Paris and Genoa. His name is pre-eminently associated with the Hi-Tech style, and, though he has created some of the most visually exciting buildings in the world, he rightly sees advanced technology not as a stylistic end in itself, but, rather, as a way of ‘solving long-term social and ecological problems’. This ideal is embodied in the calculated functionalism of his buildings. A charismatic figure, who can charm clients and motivate a team with little apparent effort, his Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (completed 1977) and the headquarters building for Lloyds of London (1986) have proved that modernist architecture is capable of catching and holding the imagination of the general public.

    Michael Birt, was born in Merseyside, studied in Bournemouth, and since 1976 has worked in London as a freelance portrait photographer. ‘A serious photographer who is prepared to concentrate on clear and quiet portraits’ (Norman Parkinson), Birt has been employed by a wide range of magazines, including The Tatler, New Society, Ritz, and Woman’s Journal. Famed, an anthology of his work, appeared in 1988. He photographed Richard Rogers at his former offices in Princes Place, Holland Park. The sitter considers this portrait ‘a refreshingly straightforward, unmannered study, full of shadows and wrinkles’, but technically it is something of a tour-de-force in the way in which Birt overcomes the problems posed by double back-lighting.

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Current affairs

Unemployment hits 3.6 million in the UK, with one in eight people out of work. The crisis came about as a result of industrial modernisation and restructuring. As a result those out of work were referred to as 'Maggie's millions'.
Charles and Diana have their first child, Prince William, who becomes the second in line for the throne.

Art and science

Richard Attenborough releases his biopic Gandhi, starring Ben Kingsley as the lead. The film was an Anglo-Indian production, featuring a record-breaking 300,000 extras.
The Barbican Arts Centre is opened featuring a concert hall, theatres, cinema screens and an art gallery. In 2003 it was voted London's ugliest building in a BBC poll.
The Thames Barrier opens to protect London from floods due to rising sea levels.


Argentina occupies the Falkland Islands beginning the Falklands War. Britain retaliated, and after three months of fighting at sea and on land won back the islands. Following the British victory opposition grew in Argentina towards the military government, while in Britain a wave of patriotism helped Margaret Thatcher to win the general election the following year.

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