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Face Of Britain By Simon Schama
49:57

Face Of Britain By Simon Schama: The Face Of Fame

Season 1 Episode 3 Arts June 25, 2017

History

Ethical understanding

Visual arts

7-8
9-10
Classification: Parental GuidanceClassification: Parental Guidance
Simon Schama looks at portraits of the famous and investigates what the celebrated faces of Britain's past and present tell us about our national character. From images of ...

Simon Schama looks at portraits of the famous and investigates what the celebrated faces of Britain's past and present tell us about our national character. From images of England's first national hero - the pirate Francis Drake - to iconic photographs of Princess Diana, he explores the popular craving for larger than life characters to populate our national story. Schama studies the fine line between fame and celebrity, visiting the country house of Stowe to see our first national portrait gallery of greats, and explores how actor David Garrick used his image to become our first genuine star of the stage. He shows how saucy depictions of 18th-century pin-up Kitty Fisher made her a public sensation and George Romney's obsessive depictions of Emma Hart turned her into the most recognised woman in Britain, helping her win the heart of national hero Horatio Nelson. Schama explains how fears that industrial Britain was losing its soul inspired the formation of the National Portrait Gallery and how the invention of cigarette cards put portraits of the famous into the palms of our hands. He looks at how the seductive photographs of Cecil Beaton fed our desire to stare into the lives of the rich and famous, while the tragic fate of Princess Diana leads him to consider the dark side of our collective addiction to famous faces.

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