17 of 275 portraits by Angus McBean
Angus McBean Photograph. © Harvard Theatre Collection, Harvard University.
by Angus McBean
bromide print, 1938
11 1/4 in. x 8 7/8 in. (286 mm x 226 mm)
Artistback to top
- Angus McBean (1904-1990), Photographer. Artist associated with 275 portraits, Sitter in 79 portraits.
This portraitback to top
Following a memorable performance as Anne of Cleves opposite her husband Charles Laughton in The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933), Lanchester moved with him to Hollywood to make her celebrated film appearance in the Bride of Frankenstein (1935). Angus McBean, best known as a theatrical and portrait photographer, arranged Lanchester before an illusionistic Dalíesque backdrop. This is part of a series of Surrealist portraits of actresses he photographed and which appeared in the illustrated magazine The Sketch from 1937. With the use of props and set design to create visual tricks, Lanchester appears to emerge from the floorboards.
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. 52 Read entry
Born Elizabeth Sullivan in Lewisham, London, Lanchester began her performing career as a child dancer with Isadora Duncan’s Paris company before acting in a children’s theatre in Soho, London, at the age of sixteen. She made her first film appearance in 1927 and two years later married Charles Laughton. Following a memorable performance as Anne of Cleves opposite Laughton in The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933) she went with him to Hollywood in 1934 to make her most iconic film appearance as the shock-haired Bride of Frankenstein (1935). McBean’s portrait embraced popular surrealistic iconography and inadvertently anticipated wartime destruction, as well as serving to highlight the forthcoming publication of her book Charles Laughton and I (1938), which contained many of her own photographs. McBean had previously photographed Laughton and Vivien Leigh together during the making of the film St Martin's Lane.
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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.