Comments 16

Basil Rathbone at the NPG

Did anyone know Basil Rathbone had six images at the National Portrait Gallery in England? Nope, neither did I. In fact I stumbled on them totally by chance while doing some esoteric search for the stage production of Peter Ibbetson that BR starred in back in 1920.

But he does indeed have six pics at the NPG. Two are repeats, one is a slightly bizarre portrait of him and Constance Collier (from the aforementioned Peter Ibbetson), where all you can see is the back of the Baz’s glorious head, and another is a quite clever cartoon of our eponymous hero and Ann Harding from Love From a Stranger. You can see them all here:

But if you can’t be bothered to click, I’ve added them here:

Photo by Bassano; whole plate glass negative, dated 20 February 1920

The Baz aged 27. I assume all three of these portraits were probably done at the time he was starring in Peter Ibbetson. Is it my imagination or is that watch strap a bit worn? I guess he didn’t have that much money back then. He’d only been out of the army about a year and was the proverbial struggling actor

Photo by Bassano; date as above

Constance Colllier and Basil Rathbone photo by Howard Instead, matte bromide print, 1920

See what I mean – the back of the Baz’s head is all we get here. Bit bizarre. Was Contance Collier the Bette Davis of Theatreland, preferring her leading men to be kept in a strictly subordinate position?

by Robert Stewart Sherriffs, pen and ink and wash, 1937

The title of this in the NPG catalogue is “Ann Harding as Carol Howard and Basil Rathbone as Gerald Lovell in LOVE FROM A STRANGER by Robert Stewart Sherriffs”. It’s quite a cool caricature of the Baz. Like the lock of hair drooping over his forehead. Love from a Stranger is one of my favorite Basil movies. I might do a post about it soon.



  1. mandy says

    Wow so lovely, really enjoying browsing your site which I found today


  2. Gillian says

    What lovely photos. He looks so romantic. Like a first world war poet. Did he ever play Stanhope in Journey’s End?


  3. milkshake says

    Beautiful, and soulful images. How young he looks. And innocent. Thanks for sharing.


  4. CarolineBlond says

    i have been hoping someone would start a new Rathbone site. is wonderful but doesn’t update often and a blog is needed. And these photos are lovely.


  5. Jed says

    Always adored Basil Rathbone, please, babe, do something about ‘The Tower of London’ which is one marvellous campy gem of a movie


  6. Peg says

    Oh wow – he was one beautiful man – why did he not do more romantic leading man work?


  7. Oh, how lovely! I absolutely adore the first portrait, it’s really beautiful. Baz looks like a poet in deep, troubled thoughts about love… Haha.
    The caricature is nice too! Makes him look a teenie bit evil, though…


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