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Harley Granville-Barker

© The Universal Order

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Harley Granville-Barker

by Alvin Langdon Coburn
gum platinum print, 27 March 1906
8 5/8 in. x 9 1/2 in. (221 mm x 241 mm)
Purchased, 2004
Primary Collection
NPG P1031

Sitterback to top

  • Harley Granville-Barker (1877-1946), Actor, producer, dramatist and critic. Sitter in 31 portraits, Artist or producer associated with 2 portraits.

Artistback to top

  • Alvin Langdon Coburn (1882-1966), Photographer. Artist or producer associated with 114 portraits, Sitter in 2 portraits.

This portraitback to top

Photographed during the height of his success in his own play The Voysey Inheritance. He had written the ironic comedy over a period of two years and it was first staged at the Court Theatre on 7 November 1905. The play was hailed as a masterpiece of the 'new real drama' and proved Granville-Barker's skill in craftsmanship.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • 100 Photographs, 2018, p. 45 Read entry

    The actor, director and playwright Harley Granville-Barker (1877-1946) had a major influence on drama in the early twentieth century. At London’s Court Theatre (1904-7) - now the Royal Court Theatre - he introduced works by Galsworthy, Masefield and Ibsen and was closely associated with George Bernard Shaw. In Shaw’s play Man and Superman (1905) Granville-Barker played opposite the actress Lillah McCarthy, whom he married the following year. Boston-born Alvin Langdon Coburn (1882-1966), who first visited England in 1899, was associated with the so-called Pictorial photographers, who used labour-intensive printing methods to evoke light, mood and atmosphere. Coburn photographed Granville-Barker at a time when Sigmund Freud’s theories attempted to explore the subconscious mind - which may account for its orange cast, made by adding pigment to a photosensitive gum bichromate emulsion.

Placesback to top

Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top

Events of 1906back to top

Current affairs

The Liberals, led by Henry Campbell-Bannerman under a promise of reform, win a landslide victory in the general election. Electors vote to end two decades dominated by Conservative rule, with disaffection mounting over the conflict in South Africa and party division over education and tariff reform. The LRC continue to grow as a political force, winning 29 seats and changing their name later this year to the Labour Party.

Art and science

Ralph Vaughan Williams edits The English Hymnal, a collection of the best in English-language hymns. Published by the Church of England, it became one of the most popular and influential hymn books in the world.
Antoni Gaudí completes his rebuilding of the Casa Batllo in Barcelona. Known locally as the 'casa dels ossos', or 'House of Bones', the building is striking for its use of curved stonework, oval windows and intricate tracery.


San Francisco is devastated by an earthquake, measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale, leading to the greatest loss of life from a natural disaster in Californian history. The impact itself and resulting fire lead to the death of over 3,000 people, and over half of the city's 400,000 population were left homeless. Although still a major city, the earthquake directs trade, industry and population south to Los Angeles.

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