Feeling disconnected at home? You’re not alone. Diana Churchill is literally beside herself in this zany portrait by Angus McBean from 1940. Angus McBean’s portraits of actors are among the most complete visual records of the British stage from the 1930s through the 1960s. Early in his career, he dabbled in the surreal, producing a popular series of “surrealized” portraits that circulated widely in glossy magazines of the day like The Sketch. Many of these images—of film icons like Audrey Hepburn, Vivien Leigh, and Judy Garland—experiment with montage and multiple exposure. They’re also great fun. McBean often likes to litter his shots with the severed, yet smiling, heads of aspiring stars. Dorothy Dickson’s head bobs glamorously in a lily pond, Beatrice Lillie’s sprouts from a mountain of sand. McBean even turned the camera on himself.
McBean’s archive consists of approximately 30,000 glass negatives as well as over 25,000 contact prints. The latter have all been digitized.
Thanks to Dale Stinchcomb, Assistant Curator of the Harvard Theatre Collection, for contributing this post. Houghton From Home is a series of posts highlighting our digitized collections. For more items from across the Harvard Library, visit Harvard Digital Collections.