Waugh Portrait Featured in Vogue Exhibit

The National Portrait Gallery in London is currently running an exhibit entitled Vogue 100: A Century of Style. Among the artifacts on show is a 1950 portrait of Evelyn Waugh by photographer Irving Penn. This is described in an arts blog called The Surrey Edit:

Evelyn Waugh looks, frankly, like he’s just read a line from one of his own books in the silent section of the library, and is relying on his bracing hands on his knees to give him the strength necessary to resist the inevitable eruption of giggles from within. Waugh’s gaze seems past us, slightly over our shoulders, in Irving Penn’s square photograph from 1952. His thick wool suit is more creased than his forehead, near where the top of the photograph ends.

A photo on the blog posted underneath this description shows the portrait hanging in the exhibit. A more detailed copy can be seen here. The photo was probably taken in September 1950 when Penn set up a temporary studio in Chelsea to work on an unrelated project later published as Small Trades. Thanks to David Lull for this additional information.

Waugh’s career of writing for Vogue dates back to 1928 when he was invited to write a review of a seemingly miscellaneous selection of books . The review (“Turning Over New Leaves”) appeared in the Vogue issue for 17 October 1928 (Essays, Articles and Reviews, p.40) and Waugh was paid 5 gns. for his work. In an undated letter thanking his agent for arranging the gig, Waugh wondered if it might become a regular feature. That seems not to have been the case. There was another similar review of a selection of books, this time by some of his contemporaries (Henry Green, Allan Hillgarth and Inez Holden), in the 4 September 1929 issue but the next appearance in Vogue after that is recorded in the Bibliography on 25 July 1934 (R.M. Davis, et al., Bibliography, pp.47, 50, 67; Letters, p.30). That article had appeared a few weeks earlier in the New York edition of the magazine (EAR, p.170).

I can find no record describing the circumstances of the Irving Penn portrait in the 1950s or the reason for Vogue’s involvement . Perhaps some one reading this has that information and could post a comment. The exhibit runs through 22 May 2016. Thanks to Professor Donat Gallagher for pointing out an oversight in the original version of this posting relating to the citations of the Vogue articles in the Bibliography.

NOTE (21 March 2016): Matthew Krejcarek of The Irving Penn Foundation kindly provided the following information:

Mr. Penn’s portrait of Evelyn Waugh—Evelyn Waugh, London, 1950 / © Condé Nast Publications, Ltd (originally published in the July 1952 issue of British Vogue)—was actually photographed in London in 1950. It was also published in a couple of Mr. Penn’s books—including Moments Preserved, accompanied by the following caption:

“Evelyn Waugh found himself unexpectedly able to come in 1950 to a studio in Chelsea where his manner was something less than endearing, lacking even the contrary humor of the games day in his hilarious novel, Decline and Fall. Those who know him well say he has a certain tigerish charm.”

NOTE 2 (23 March 2016): According to a description from the July 1952 issue of Vogue mentioned in Matthew’s email, the article in which Waugh’s photo appeared was:

Spotlight feature (4 pages)
(Small feature: Evelyn Waugh; Mandy Miller; Joan Greenwood & Michael Redgrave and others)

This information was also kindly provided by David Lull. The others mentioned are British film actors.

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One Response to Waugh Portrait Featured in Vogue Exhibit

  1. Dave Lull says:

    It looks like the date of the portrait listed by the NPG is 1950 with a copyright date of 1952:

    vintage bromide print, 1950
    NPG P603
    © 1952 (renewed 1980) Condé Nast Publications Inc.

    http://www.npg.org.uk/collections/search/use-this-image.php?mkey=mw09461

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