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Melbourne, Victoria, Australia 1914 – 1990

Noel Coward 1941 Materials & Technique: photographs, gelatin silver photograph Support: cardboard

Primary Insc: signed, l.r., "Athol Shmith", not dated
Dimensions: 47.0 h x 37.6 w cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1978
Accession No: NGA 78.151

‘In this portrait Shmith brings out the public image Coward created for himself, his distinctive profile, mannerisms, debonair charm and poise for which he was popularly known.’ (Crombie)

Noël Coward first achieved fame with his play The Vortex (1924), which shocked audiences with its discussions of drug-abuse among the upper classes. He achieved further acclaim with his witty, satirical plays such as Hayfever (1925) and Private Lives (1930) in which he starred with his friend Gertrude Lawrence and a young Laurence Olivier. He also wrote reviews and musicals: among these were Cavalcade (1931), Words and Music (1932) and Sigh No More (1945). Many of the songs from these productions became famous. Coward was also active in filmmaking. He wrote, produced, co-directed and starred in the war film In which we Serve (1942).

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra