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Bill Brandt: Portraits

Past display archive
20 March - 5 September 2004

Balcony Gallery



To celebrate the centenary of his birth, this display is the first chance in twenty years to see a remarkable collection of great photographic portraits by legendary photographer Bill Brandt (1904 - 1983). This display complements the major exhibition being mounted by the Victoria and Albert Museum - Bill Brandt: A Centenary Retrospective (24 March -25 July 2004).

Selected from over 112 works by Brandt in the National Portrait Gallery collection, this display brings together 40 photographs, including a number of rare vintage prints from the 1940s ranging from Cecil Day-Lewis and T.S. Eliot to John Piper and Augustus John. From the 1950s and 60s come Brandt's memorable portraits of Peter Sellers, René Magritte and Harold Pinter. The 1970s and 80s are represented by his portraits of Martin Amis, Ted Hughes, David Hockney, Glenda Jackson and Bridget Riley.

Bill Brandt and Cecil Beaton (1904-80) were contemporaries and photographed each other. They had a number of sitters in common, and this display of Brandt's portraits coincides with the Gallery's major exhibition Cecil Beaton: Portraits (5 February - 31 May 2004).

Hermann Wilhelm Brandt, born into an Anglo-German family in Hamburg, was a schoolboy in Germany during the First World War and learnt photography in a Viennese studio in the 1920s. He also spent a brief time with Man Ray in Paris before settling in London in the 1930s. Taking hard-edged documentary photographs during the Depression for Picture Post and Weekly Illustrated helped establish his reputation, as did his first books The English at Home (1936) and A Night in London (1938). The former contains his classic pictures of a day in the life of a domestic servant, published in Picture Post and recently included in the Gallery's Below Stairs exhibition.

However, it was Brandt's commissions from the magazine Lilliput that first established him as a portraitist of note, specialising in writers and artists. The first portfolio, Young Poets of Democracy, was accompanied by text by Stephen Spender and included studies of Dylan Thomas, Cecil Day-Lewis, William Empson and Robert Graves. Other series focused on composers, film directors and novelists whilst Brandt's work also appeared regularly in Harper's Bazaar.

Thursday 25 March 1.10pm
Bill Brandt
Roger Hargreaves, Photography Education Officer, National Portrait Gallery, discusses the work of the legendary photographer

Bill Brandt: Portraits 1982 website feature
Official Bill Brandt website

Installation photography

Checklist of portraits shown at the National Portrait Gallery between 7 May and 22 August 2004

Bill Brandt: Portraits

1 Ezra Pound Paris 1928
2 William Empson Sitter's bed sitting-room, Bermondsey, London 1940
3 Cecil Day-Lewis 1941
4 Alun Lewis 1941
5 Robert Graves Sitter's cottage, Churston, Devon 1941
6 Louis MacNeice Sitter's home, Highgate, London 1941
7 J. B. Priestley Bournemouth (hotel grounds) 1941
8 Stephen Spender Horizon offices, London 1941
9 Dylan Thomas Salisbury public house 1941
10 Sir Osbert Lancaster 1942
11 Dylan and Caitlin Thomas Sitter's home, Manresa Road, Chelsea, London 1944
12 Cecil Beaton 1945
13 Pablo Casals London 1945
14 John Piper Sitter's farmhouse near Henley 1945
15 Edith Sitwell Renishaw Hall, Derbyshire 1945
16 Edith and Osbert Sitwell Sitter's home, Renishaw Hall, Derbyshire 1945
17 Graham Sutherland Sitter's garden, Kent 1945
18 Elizabeth Bowen Sitter's home, London 1946
19 Benjamin Britten Glyndebourne 1946
20 Norman Douglas 1946
21 Constant Lambert London 1946
22 Henry Moore Sitter's studio, Much Hadham, Hertfordshire 1946
23 Alan Rawsthorne Bayswater, London circa 1946
24 Sir Michael Tippett On a farm at Oxted, Surrey 1946
25 Jack Yeats Dublin 1946
26 E. M. Forster Sitter's rooms, King's College, Cambridge 1947
27 Celia Johnson 1947
28 John and Roy Boulting 1948
29 Graham Greene Sitter's home, St. James's, London 1948
30 Ivon Hitchens circa 1948
31 Dame Ivy Compton-Burnett Sitter's home, Cornwall Gardens, London 1949
32 Evelyn Waugh 1949
33 Kenneth Tynan 1951
34 Sir Alec Guinness Campden Hill, London 1952
35 Dorothy Tutin Wimbledon Common 1953
36 Georges Braque Varengeville, Normandy 1955
37 Edward Gordon Craig Vence, South of France 1955
38 Ben Nicholson Sitter's studio, St. Ives, Cornwall 1956
39 Ben Nicholson 1956
40 Pablo Picasso 'La Californie', Cannes 1956
41 A. J. P. Taylor Oxford 1957
42 Harold Pinter Battersea, London 1961
43 Jean Dubuffet Col de Vence, South of France 1962
44 Franco Zeffirelli Ennismore Gardens, London 1962
45 Daisy Ashford 1963
46 Francis Bacon Primrose Hill, London 1963
47 Peter Brook 1963
48 Laurie Lee 1963
49 Iris Murdoch Sitter's home, Steeple Aston, Oxfordshire 1963
50 Donald Pleasence 1963
51 Peter Sellers Film set of 'A Shot in the Dark', Elstree 1963
52 Giorgio de Chirico Sitter's studio, Piazza di Spagna, Rome 1965
53 Alain Robbe-Grillet Saint-Germain-des-PrÈs, Paris 1965
54 Nicol Williamson Kensington, London 1965
55 Bill Brandt East Sussex 1966
56 René Magritte Sitter's studio, Brussels 1966
57 Jonathan Miller 1966
58 Malcolm Muggeridge Robertsbridge, Sussex 1966
59 J. B. Priestley Sitter's garden, Alveston, Warwickshire 1969
60 Man Ray Vence, South of France 1970
61 Glenda Jackson Sitter's home, Blackheath, London 1971
62 Martin Amis Campden Hill, London 1974
63 John Le Carré near Land's End, Cornwall 1974
64 Jacques-Henri Lartigue Sitter's home, Opio, South of France 1974
65 Jean Rhys Sitter's home, Cheriton Fitzpaine, Devon 1975
66 V. S. Naipul Sitter's home, South Kensington, London 1976
67 Brassaï Eze, South of France 1978
68 Robert Graves Mallorca 1978
69 Ted Hughes near Exeter 1978
70 Tom Stoppard 1978
71 Sir Alfred (A. J.) Ayer 1980
72 Sir John Betjeman Sitter's home, Chelsea, London 1980
73 Kenneth Clark, Lord Clark Sitter's home, Kent 1980
74 William Empson Sitter's home, Hampstead, London 1980
75 Michael Frayn Sitter's home, Blackheath, London 1980
76 Anthony Green 1980
77 David Hockney Sitter's studio, Kensington, London 1980
78 Sir Denys Lasdun 1980
79 John Osborne 1980
80 Edna O'Brien Sitter's home, Chelsea, London 1980
81 Victor Pasmore Blackheath, London 1980
82 Sir Victor (V. S.) Pritchett Sitter's home, London 1980
83 Dame Marie Rambert Campden Hill, London 1980
84 Sir Ralph Richardson Sitter's garden, London 1980
85 Bridget Riley Sitter's studio, London 1980
86 Richard Rogers Sitter's studio, London 1980
87 Sir Roy Strong Sitter's home, Herefordshire 1980
88 Philip King London 1981
89 Harold Pinter Campden Hill, London 1981
90 John Schlesinger Sitter's home, Kensington, London 1981
91 Paul Scofield Sitter's home, Sussex 1981
92 Lynn Seymour Sitter's home, Chiswick, London 1981
93 Cecil Day-Lewis 1941
94 Stephen Spender 1941
95 Sir Osbert Lancaster 1942
96 William Cosmo Gordon Lang Canterbury Cathedral 1942
97 Kenneth Clark, Lord Clark Sitter's home, Hampstead, London 1944
98 Lady Clark Sitter's home, Hampstead, London 1944
99 Sir Gerald Tyrwhitt-Wilson, Lord Berners circa 1945
100 Lady Violet Bonham Carter, later Baroness Asquith of Yarnbury circa 1945
101 Richard Crossman 1945
102 Geoffrey Crowther, Lord Crowther circa 1945
103 T. S. Eliot Faber & Faber, Bloomsbury, London circa 1945
104 Eric Hesketh Hubbard Sitter's home, Albany, London 1945
105 Augustus John circa 1945
106 Beatrix Lehmann circa 1945
107 John Piper 1945
108 Terence Rattigan Sitter's home, Albany, London 1945
109 Peter Ustinov circa 1945


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