Previously Unseen Portraits Go On Display At Agatha Christie Exhibition
Previously unseen portraits of Agatha Christie are currently on display at Bankside Gallery on the Southbank.
If, like us, the images you're used to seeing of the Queen of Crime bring to mind a kindly, older woman sitting by a typewriter, this exhibition really fleshes out the life story of this most successful of writers. The chronological display shows Agatha's happy childhood, her active youth (rollerskating, surfing), as a mother, wife, heartbroken divorcee and in a happy second marriage. Towards the end, more familiar portraits of the elderly writer are also on display.
As well as the photos, the exhibition offers a unique chance to see a portrait of Christie painted by the Austrian expressionist painter Oskar Kokoschka to mark her 80th birthday. The painting belongs to Christie's grandson, Matthew Prichard, and never usually leaves his house. It's a rather garish creation, and we're not sure we liked it.
The pictures are accompanied by brilliant quotes from the woman who is the world's most widely published author, outsold only by the Bible and Shakespeare. The tidbits of memoir, snatches of interview and laconic aphorisms tell Christie's life story beautifully.
Events, from the unusual to the mundane, are reflected upon with searing honesty, emotional intelligence and occasional wit: the arrival of a puppy on her fifth birthday, her parents' deaths, the moment working in a war dispensary when, surrounded by poisons, she thought about writing a detective story.
We rather like Christie's bold, active side too: the rollerskater, adventurer and skimpy-suited surfer are a world away from the 'granny with a typewriter' we've always been shown before.
There's heartbreak too: both wars affect our heroine deeply. The almost paparazzi-style shot of Christie 'discovered' leaving a spa hotel 11 days after going missing following a breakdown is also on display.
While Unfinished Portrait isn't a groundbreaking show, it's certainly a treat for fans and newcomers to the Christie story alike.
Last Updated 30 August 2015