Athol SHMITH, Sir Laurence Olivier, 1948 Enlarge 1 /1


Melbourne, Victoria, Australia 1914 – 1990

Sir Laurence Olivier, 1948 1948 Description: [FN 1186]
Materials & Technique: photographs, gelatin silver photograph

Dimensions: printed image 49.1 h x 39.2 w cm sheet 49.8 h x 39.6 w cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1978
Accession No: NGA 78.149

‘In my opinion, Olivier is the greatest English-speaking actor of the twentieth century. In private he was extremely natural with no theatrical gestures, and a pleasure to photograph.’ (Shmith)

The recently knighted Sir Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh toured Australia and New Zealand from February to November 1948. The School for Scandal was directed by Olivier and he also played the role of Sir Peter Teazle to Vivien Leigh’s Lady Teazle. They also starred in Richard III and Thornton Wilder’s The Skin of Our Teeth. They were feted as theatre royalty while in Australia and as a dream couple. Only later was it revealed that Leigh had begun to show signs of mental instability and depression (she had been diagnosed with a tubercular patch on her left lung in 1944 and had a miscarriage in 1946) and that the marriage had already begun to disintegrate.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra