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Madame Yevonde ('Junior and the Photographer')

© Yevonde Portrait Archive / Mary Evans Picture Library

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Madame Yevonde ('Junior and the Photographer')

by Madame Yevonde
semi-matte bromide print on card mount, circa 1958
10 3/8 in. x 11 1/4 in. (262 mm x 285 mm)
Given by Madame Yevonde, 1971
Photographs Collection
NPG x26030

Sitterback to top

  • Madame Yevonde (1893-1975), Photographer. Sitter in 8 portraits, Artist associated with 332 portraits.

Artistback to top

  • Madame Yevonde (1893-1975), Photographer. Artist associated with 332 portraits, Sitter in 8 portraits.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Gibson, Robin, The Face in the Corner: Animal Portraits from the Collections of the National Portrait Gallery, 1998, p. 88
  • Robin Gibson, Pets in Portraits, 2015, p. 128 Read entry

    Although still a little-known name, Madame Yevonde (she was born Yevonde Cumbers) was one of the most colourful and original figures in British photography. Her pioneering work with colour photography in the 1930s was extremely influential and has scarcely been equalled since. This entertaining self-portrait is typical of her always inventive approach to the medium and surely indicative of the importance cats played in her life. She had been happily married to a minor playwright called Edgar Middleton and was devastated by his premature death in 1939. Although not mentioned at all in her entertaining biography, In Camera (1940), it was her cats who seem increasingly to have filled the void left by his death.

    The cats had the free run of her studio. Whiskey wormed his way into several of her society portraits in the 1930s, and it was probably he who managed to escape with her to safety seconds before a direct hit on her Berkely Square studio during the Blitz. Junior also appears in other photographs. On the reverse of the mount, Mme Yevonde has inscribed: ‘JUNIOR – Winner of the 1958 Good Conduct Prize offered by the Cats Protection League for the most distinguished cat. He was aged 18 when he disappeared. He is wearing a very early photograph of the photographer.’ Modest as always, the photograph in question cannot in fact have been taken much before 1945.

Events of 1958back to top

Current affairs

Britain's first motorway is built. The Preston bypass (M6) was the first road to be built to official motorway standards, although the M1 (opened in 1959) was the first road to be given official status. The road was opened by the Prime minister, Harold Macmillan, and heralded a new age of mass, high-speed motoring.

Art and science

Michael Bond publishes A Bear Called Paddington, the first Paddington Bear book. This popular character is remembered for being found at Paddington Station by the Brown family, for wearing a floppy hat, duffle coat and Wellington boots, and for his penchant for marmalade sandwiches.
The children's television programme, Blue Peter, is broadcast for the first time.


Following the USSR's successful launch of the Sputnik 1 satellite in 1957, America launches its own space agency, NASA. Under pressure from the Soviets' early lead, NASA began research into human spaceflight. The competition between the two superpowers to explore outer space, send humans beyond the Earth's orbit and land on the moon was known as the 'space race'.

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