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Sir Philip Albert Gustave David Sassoon, 3rd Bt

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Sir Philip Albert Gustave David Sassoon, 3rd Bt

by Howard Coster
bromide print, 1929
8 5/8 in. x 11 in. (218 mm x 278 mm)
Given by the estate of Howard Coster, 1959
Photographs Collection
NPG Ax2310

Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

  • Howard Coster (1885-1959), Photographer. Artist associated with 9350 portraits, Sitter in 5 portraits.

This portraitback to top

Sassoon was photographed by Coster at Port Lympne, the country house he built in his constituencey of Hythe in Kent. Coster's photographs of Sassoon appeared as sepia photogravure reproductions in the 1929 Christmas issue of the Bookman Magazine, an illustrated monthly devoted to literary life.

Related worksback to top

  • NPG x15286: Sir Philip Albert Gustave David Sassoon, 3rd Bt (original negative)

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Clerk, Honor, The Sitwells, 1994 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 14 October - 22 January 1995), p. 174 Read entry

    From the age of twenty-four until his death at fifty-one Sir Philip Sassoon (1888-1939) held his father's seat of Hythe in the Unionist cause. His distinguished career took him from private secretary to Earl Haig in 1915 to two terms as Under-secretary of State for Air in the inter-war years, a period crucial in the history of developing air power. His final post, as Commissioner of Works (from 1937) probably best suited his talents and taste, and in this capacity he was responsible for the restoration of Sir James Thornhill's Painted Hall at Greenwich Hospital. In an elegant entry on Sassoon in the Dictionary of National Biography, Osbert pays tribute to his creative kindness and asserts that 'no picture of life between the wars is complete without some account of one of [his] houses, filled always with politicians, painters, writers, professional golfers and airmen.' Among his broad acquaintance were members of the royal family, and it was through Sassoon that Osbert met and made friends with the Duchess of York.

    Osbert had fagged for Sassoon at Eton and later years was his frequent guest at Port Lympne, the house he built on Romney Marsh, and at Trent Park in Hertfordshire, where the photograph by Howard Coster was taken. This house in particular is discussed by Osbert in The Scarlet Tree. Although it was close to Ludgrove, his hated prep school, he had failed on subsequent visits to Trent to recognise it as the building he had been made to walk past every Sunday.

  • Pepper, Terence; Strong, Arthur, Howard Coster's Celebrity Portraits, 1985 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 28 June - 8 September 1985), p. 88

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Events of 1929back to top

Current affairs

The first election held under universal suffrage is a victory for Labour. Ramsay Macdonald returned for his second term as Prime Minster, and appointed Margaret Grace Bondfield as the first woman Cabinet Minister.

Art and science

Two classic books about the First World War are published: All Quiet on the Western Front, by war veteran, Erich Maria Remarque, tells of the horrors of war and the returning German soldiers' feelings of detachment from civilian life; while Robert Grave's autobiography Goodbye to All That, aimed to describe the author's experiences of the war so that they 'need never be thought about again'.


The 24th October 1929 becomes known as Black Thursday when the US Stock Exchange Collapses and millions are lost. The event was the start of the Wall Street Crash, which in turn contributed towards the Great Depression: a major international recession that lasted through most of the 1930s.

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