Dame Peggy Ashcroft
Angus McBean Photograph. © Harvard Theatre Collection, Harvard University.
Dame Peggy Ashcroft
by Angus McBean
bromide print, 1938
11 3/8 in. x 9 3/8 in. (289 mm x 237 mm)
Sitterback to top
- Dame Edith Margaret Emily ('Peggy') Ashcroft (1907-1991), Actress. Sitter in 43 portraits.
Artistback to top
- Angus McBean (1904-1990), Photographer. Artist or producer associated with 276 portraits, Sitter in 79 portraits.
Linked publicationsback to top
- Pepper, Terence, Angus McBean Portraits, 2006 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 5 July to 22 October 2006), p. 42 Read entry
Peggy Ashcroft made her stage debut in 1926 opposite Ralph Richardson in J. M. Barrie's Dear Brutus. Previously she had trained at the Central School of Speech and Drama, where Laurence Olivier had been a fellow student. In 1937 Ashcroft returned to London after a short stay in New York to act in a four-play season at the Queen’s Theatre. She appeared as part of a company assembled by John Gielgud, whose productions there also included Richard II, The School for Scandal and The Three Sisters. McBean photographed her dressed as Portia in The Merchant of Venice. The surreal background was one of many for the Sketch series painted by Roy Hobdell, while McBean positioned a real doorframe and painted on wood grain to enhance the three-dimensional effect. McBean’s surreal series also included a composition of The Three Sisters showing Ashcroft with Carol Goodner and Gwen Ffrangcon-Davies.
Events of 1938back to top
Current affairsBritain pursues its policy of appeasement. At the Munich Agreement, Britain, France and Italy agreed to allow Hitler to seize the Sudetenland area of Czechoslovakia. The agreement was seen at the time as a triumph for peace, with Neville Chamberlain returning home brandishing the paper agreement and saying 'peace for our time.' Within six months Germany had occupied the rest of Czechoslovakia.
Art and scienceGraham Greene publishes Brighton Rock. The novel follows the descent of Pinky, a teenage gang leader in Brighton's criminal underworld. The book examines the criminal mind and explores the themes of morality and sin - recurrent concerns for the Roman Catholic Author.
Glasgow hosts the Empire Exhibition; an ?11 million celebration of the British Empire visited by 13 million people.
InternationalIn its pursuit of 'Lebensraum' (living space), Germany annexes Austria and parts of Czechoslovakia with little opposition from the League of Nations. At home, the Nazis continued their escalating persecution of the Jews with 'Kristallnach' (the Night of Broken Glass), attacking Jewish homes, shops, businesses and synagogues, and taking Jewish men to concentration camps.
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