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ID number:  BIRRC-A0952
Institution:  Research and Cultural Collections
Named collection:  Campus Collection of Fine and Decorative Art
Artist / Maker:  Dane, Clemence (1888-1965)
Title / Object name:  Portrait of Noel Coward
Object type:  Painting
Date made:  1930s
Materials:  Oil on canvas
Measurements:  76.2 x 63.5 cm
BIRRC-A0952(1).jpg

Noel Coward was an actor, singer, playwright, composer and entertainer of genius. In this portrait we see him smiling and seated at his piano, composing the score for his 1954 musical After the Ball. Unusually we know the date of the picture, from Coward’s diaries in Special Collections: ‘Monday 23rd November 1953… ‘Winnie has started a painting of me sitting at the piano; I hammered out two melodies while Winnie bashed away.’ Winnie was Winifred Ashton, the English novelist and playwright who worked under the pseudonym ‘Clemence Dane’. She and Coward were close friends, with a relationship that can be sensed in the informal and playful feel of the portrait. Coward rather mischievously liked to refer to Dane as ‘a gallant old girl’. The two further likenesses of Coward by Clemence Dane, an oil and a bronze bust, are housed in the National Portrait Gallery.
Special Collections is home to the Noel Coward Archive, comprising drafts of plays, films, short stories, music, photographs, audio and visual recordings, correspondence, diaries and journals.

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