This blog post from the Scottish Visual Arts Group alerted me to the fact that it was possible to use images from the National Portrait Gallery for non-commercial purposes.
Going to the Advanced Search area of the website, it’s possible to perform a search for the profession of the sitter/subject of the portrait. So, of course, I decided to have a look and see what the librarians of the past look like. After all, today, we’re apparently all female, frumpy, and middle aged.
Of the 72 people whose profession was described as “librarian”, only 7 were female librarians*. The rest were be-whiskered, elderly white gentlemen of a certain class, with some amazing names: Arundell James Kennedy Esdaile; Luxmoore Newcombe; Harry Tapley Tapley-Soper; Charles Talbut Onions…
Of the 7 female librarians, only one is actually the sole subject of the portrait: the rest are group photographs of National Portrait Gallery staff from various eras, staff of other bodies, or a painting of a group.
So here you go: the rare sight of a portrait of a female librarian! I give you…Alda von Anrep!
|Record page at NPG|
Yes, it’s not exactly a stereotype-busting look, but hey, she’s all we’ve got!
*The full list is: Adla von Anrep; Rosemary Evison; Emma Floyd; Nicole Mendelsohn; Constance-Anne Parker; Lousa Fentham Todd, and Valeria Vaughan Batson.