Only Connect

Only Connect, was an experimental display at the National Portrait Gallery presenting a web of portraits connecting sitters across three centuries. Comprising paintings, sculpture, photographs, engravings, drawings, miniatures and works in other media from the National Portrait Gallery’s holdings, the display used musical connections to explore new ways of looking at the Collection.

The display proposed a network of threads connecting singers, composers, artists, doctors, sculptors, poets, engineers, ambassadors and many others. As a result, everyone in the display was linked in one way or another. The connections ranged from the profound and the personal to the accidental and the incidental. Some were friends and some were lovers; several wrote about each other or had similar ideas; others were enemies or simply met on the street. For example, composer Benjamin Britten and violinist and conductor, Yehudi Menuhin performed at Bergen-Belsen concentration camp after liberation in 1945. Yehudi Menuhin gave ground-breaking performances of composer Michael Tippett’s Corelli Fantasia. The sets and costumes for Tippett’s opera Midsummer Marriage were designed by sculptor Barbara Hepworth. An alternative route is formed by writer George Bernard Shaw who corresponded with the pianist Harriet Cohen. She premiered Elgar’s Piano Quintet and Elgar made his most famous recording of his Violin concerto with the teenaged Yehudi Menuhin. Such links evoke an invisible layer of human interconnectedness, a virtual six degrees of separation through the Collection of the National Portrait Gallery.

The choice of pictures reflected a ‘reading’ of the National Portrait Gallery collection in the light of interaction and connectedness. Any sense of hierarchy, whether between creative or interpretative artists and musicians, or between great engineers and dentists, was avoided. This was reflected in the choice of works in the display, which purposefully presented mass-produced material such as engravings alongside masterworks. The title of the display Only Connect was taken from E. M. Forster’s novel Howard’s End, which is concerned with the difficulties, troubles and benefits of relationships between members of different social classes. The display, Only Connect, presented one possible reading: it was open to the viewer to make other connections.

The display was devised by Peter Sheppard Skærved, violinist, in collaboration with Paul Moorhouse, 20th Century curator at the National Portrait Gallery. Peter Sheppard Skærved is the dedicatee of over 200 works for solo violin, and has appeared as soloist in over thirty countries.

    Barbara Hepworth,    by Barbara Hepworth,    1950,    NPG 5919,    © Bowness Barbara Hepworth, by Barbara Hepworth, 1950


Sir Michael Tippett

Sir Michael Tippett <> Priaulx Rainier

Sir Michael Tippett <> Ludwig van Beethoven

Sir Michael Tippett <> Barbara Hepworth

Michael Tippet <> Yehudi Menuhin

Sir Michael Tippett <> T.S. Eliot

Barbara Hepworth

Barbara Hepworth <> Sir Michael Tippett

Barbara Hepworth <> Priaulx Rainier

Barbara Hepworth <> T.S. Eliot

Ludwig Van Beethoven

Ludwig Van Beethoven <> Felix Mendelssohn

Ludwig Van Beethoven <> Jelly D'Aranyi

Ludwig Van Beethoven <> Joseph Joachim

Ludwig van Beethoven <> Sir Michael Tippett

Ludwig Van Beethoven <> Nicolo Pagnini

Ludwig van Beethoven <> Richard Cosway

Ludwig van Beethoven <> Thomas Eliot

Ludwig van Beethoven <> Wolfgang Mozart

Priaulx Rainier

Priaulx Rainier <> Barbara Hepworth

Priaulx Rainier <> Sir Michael Tippett

Priaulx Rainier <> Yehudi Menuhin

Benjamin Britten

Benjamin Britten <> Imogen Holst

Benjamin Britten <> Yehudi Menuhin

Benjamin Britten <> Eric Fenby

Yehudi Menuhin

Yehudi Menuhin <> Benjamin Britten

Yehudi Menuhin <> Edward Elgar

Yehudi Menuhin <> Eric Fenby

Yehudi Menuhin <> Frederic Delius

Yehudi Menuhin <> Michael Tippet

Yehudi Menuhin <> Priaulx Rainier

Imogen Holst

Imogen Holst <> Benjamin Britten

Edward Elgar

Edward Elgar <> Yehudi Menuhin

Edward Elgar <> Jelly D'Aranyi

Harriet Cohen

Harriet Cohen <> George Shaw

Harriet Cohen <> Frederick Delius

Harriet Cohen <> Rebecca West

Frederick Delius

Frederick Delius <> Harriet Cohen

Philip Heseltine <> Jelly D'Aranyi

Frederic Delius <> Yehudi Menuhin

Rebecca West

Rebecca West <> Harriet Cohen

Jelly D'Aranyi

Jelly D'Aranyi <> Edward Elgar

Jelly D'Aranyi <> Gustav Holst

Jelly D'Aranyi <> Joseph Joachim

Jelly D'Aranyi <> Ludwig Van Beethoven

Jelly D'Aranyi <> Philip Heseltine

David Garrick

David Garrick <> Karl Abel

George Shaw

George Shaw <> Harriet Cohen

George Shaw <> Joseph Joachim

Joseph Joachim

Joseph Joachim <> Felix Mendelssohn

Joseph Joachim <> Frederic Leighton

Joseph Joachim <> George Shaw

Joseph Joachim <> Jelly D'Aranyi

Joseph Joachim <> Ludwig Van Beethoven

Gustav Holst

Gustav Holst <> Jelly D'Aranyi

Felix Mendelssohn

Felix Mendelssohn <> Charles Mathews

Felix Mendelssohn <> Isambard Brunel

Felix Mendelssohn <> Joseph Joachim

Felix Mendelssohn <> Ludwig Van Beethoven

Felix Mendelssohn <> Nicolo Paganini

Frederic Leighton

Frederic Leighton <> Joseph Joachim

Herbert Wells

Herbert Wells <> Igor Stravinsky

Herbert Wells <> Thomas Eliot

Igor Stravinsky

Igor Stravinsky <> Herbert Wells

Igor Stravinsky <> Thomas Eliot

Wolfgang Mozart

Wolfgang Mozart <> Charles Burney

Wolfgang Mozart <> Joseph Haydn

Wolfgang Mozart <> Ludwig Van Beethoven

Wolfgang Mozart <> William Hamilton

T.S. Eliot

T.S. Eliot <> Barbara Hepworth

T.S. Eliot <> Herbert Wells

T.S. Eliot <> Igor Stravinsky

T.S. Eliot <> Ludwig van Beethoven

T.S. Eliot <> Sir Michael Tippett

Leigh Hunt

Leigh Hunt <> Madame Vestris

Leigh Hunt <> Niccolo Paganini

Angelica Catalani

Angelica Catalani <> Nicolo Paganini

Niccolò Paganini

Niccolò Paganini <> Angelica Catalani

Niccolò Paganini <> Edwin Landseer

Niccolò Paganini <> Felix Mendelssohn

Niccolò Paganini <> Joseph Haydn

Niccolò Paganini <> Leigh Hunt

Niccolò Pagnini <> Ludwig Van Beethoven

Niccolò Paganini <> Luigi Marchesi

Niccolò Paganini <> Samuel Cartwright

Charles Mathews

Charles Mathews <> Felix Mendelssohn

Charles Mathews <> Madame Vestris

Joseph Haydn

Joseph Haydn <> Emma Hamilton

Joseph Haydn <> Horatio Nelson

Joseph Haydn <> Nicolo Paganini

Joseph Haydn <> Thomas Jefferson

Joseph Haydn <> William Hamilton

Joseph Haydn <> Wolfgang Mozart

Luigi Marchesi

Luigi Marchesi <> Fanny Burney

Luigi Marchesi <> Nicolo Paganini

James Cervetto

James Cervetto <> Karl Abel

Samuel Cartwright

Samuel Cartwright <> Nicolo Paganini

Samuel Cartwright <> Isambard Brunel

Madame Vestris

Madame Vestris <> Charles Mathews

Madame Vestris <> Leigh Hunt

Edwin Landseer

Edwin Landseer <> Niccolò Paganini

Isambard Brunel

Isambard Brunel <> Felix Mendelssohn

Isambard Brunel <> Samuel Cartwright

Charles Burney

Charles Burney <> Fanny Burney

Charles Burney <> Sir William Hamilton

Charles Burney <> Wolfgang Mozart

Karl Abel

Karl Abel <> David Garrick

Karl Abel <> James Cervetto

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson <> Richard Cosway

Thomas Jefferson <> Joseph Haydn

Maria Cosway

Maria Cosway <> Richard Cosway

Emma Hamilton

Emma Hamilton <> Horatio Nelson

Emma Hamilton <> Joseph Haydn

Emma Hamilton <> Richard Cosway

Emma Hamilton <> William Hamilton

William Hamilton

William Hamilton <> Charles Burney

William Hamilton <> Emma Hamilton

William Hamilton <> Horatio Nelson

William Hamilton <> Joseph Haydn

William Hamilton <> Wolfgang Mozart

Horatio Nelson

Horatio Nelson <> Emma Hamilton

Horatio Nelson <> Joseph Haydn

Horatio Nelson <> Richard Cosway

Horatio Nelson <> William Hamilton

Richard Cosway

Richard Cosway <> Emma Hamilton

Richard Cosway <> Horatio Nelson

Richard Cosway <> Ludwig Van Beethoven

Richard Cosway <> Maria Cosway

Richard Cosway <> Thomas Jefferson

Fanny Burney

Fanny Burney <> Charles Burney

Fanny Burney <> Luigi Marchesi