Cambridge University Golden Age Revealed At NPG
Cambridge Connections: Photographs by Antony Barrington Brown, documents Cambridge of the 1950s with portraits of leading figures
A new display at the National Portrait Gallery will celebrate the career of photographer Antony Barrington Brown.
The fifteen portraits on show present a selection of 240 recently acquired portraits given to the Gallery by the photographer before his death in January 2012. The display will show leading figures in Cambridge during the 1950s including Mark Boxer, Crick and Watson and Michael Winner. Cambridge Connections: Photographs by Antony Barrington Brown (1927 – 2012) will run until 16 September 2012.
The best-known photograph by Barrington Brown is of James Watson and Francis Crick around the time of their discovery of DNA in 1953. They were photographed in the Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge with their original DNA double-helix model to accompany an article on Crick and Watson for Time Magazine. Although not published at the time the photograph became well-known following its reproduction in Crick’s memoir The Double Helix (1968).
The other portraits on display include arts administrator and journalist Sir John Tusa, cartoonist and magazine editor Mark Boxer, co-founder of the Royal Shakespeare Company John Barton, ex Archbishop of Canterbury Baron Runcie, theologian and historian William Chadwick and film director, producer and critic, Michael Winner.
Born in 1927 in Chester, Antony Barrington Brown served in the Army for three years before reading Chemistry at the at the University of Cambridge. During his time there he worked as a photographer and picture editor for the student newspaper Varsity, which acted as a training ground for many journalists and politicians. After a short time as a research chemist for Esso he returned to Cambridge in 1951, establishing himself a freelance photographer. He aimed to capture dons in their ‘natural habitat’, and he was commissioned by colleges to portray the Fellows of the University. He also worked as a photo-journalist for the national press, the BBC and Movietone News amongst others. In 1958 he changed direction and pursued a successful career in furniture and manufacture. The display presents a selection from the 240 recently acquired sittings, taken between 1953 and 1958, given to the National Portrait Gallery by Barrington Brown before his death in a car crash in January 2012.
Sir John Tusa says, ‘I remember the sitting well. I am standing on the steps of Neville's Court, Trinity College, as they lead up to Hall, leaning on the balustrade. It was taken for the college magazine when I was president of the Junior Common Room. I wore a red sweater for it. I remember Antony as informal and unhurried in his approach. He made being photographed seem easy.’
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