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Sundries
...a sweatshop of moxie

Monday, November 14, 2005

Lord Lichfield Dies

It seems we have a rare Sundries meme in these two last posts, as a famed portraitist's death was announced Saturday.

Patrick, Earl of Lichfield, a first-cousin to the Queen, has died after falling ill of a sudden at a friend's home in Oxford.



He was a relatively young 66 years-old.

Lord Lichfield was best known for his evocative studies of the Swinging 60's era of rock stars, models, and minor celebrities then, who became renowned celebreties now, like Joanna Lumley and Lady Antonia Fraser.

Unlike Lord Snowdon, who gave up his very similar career as a photographer when he married the late Princess Margaret, Lord Lichfield was not a member of the Royal Family, and thus could continue his blossoming career unhampered by protocol.

However, as photographer-cousin to the Queen, he was given special access to the Royal Family, and some of their best known formal portraits en famille show his fine eye for composition.

I have heard it privately many times from people who knew him that he wasn't, shall we say, the kindest of persons, having a waspish sense of humour and high-bound aristocratic temper, which he aimed frequently at his guests at his family seat at Shugborough Hall.

But I'm not the type of person to harp too much on the negatives after a person has passed, so let that be only a small historical detail.

Instead, I am reminded that some of my favourite photos of O Rei, Pele, are by Lichfield, who was hired by FIFA on occasion to photograph the most talented soccer players of our day.

Patrick Lichfield was not a brooding type of photographer, who relished showing his subjects in a morose light, the better to bring out hidden characteristics of their personality.

He, in fact, was the polar opposite of that, always making sure his sitters were smiling, confident, and above-all, relaxed.

That he succeeded time and again, is in no small testament to his natural talents.

Recently, he photographed Pele for the FIFA 100th centenary, reprising his earlier iconic photograph of the best football player the world has ever known.



Here the age-defying Pele is holding the 1930 Uruguay World Cup ball, the oldest-known World Cup ball in existence.

But it's his excellent photo of Pele, doing what Pele did best, that will forever remind me of the talent that was Lord Lichfield.



That exquisite bicycle-kick, timed to perfection, by player and portraitist alike.

And you know, there are worse legacies to leave, than that of giving people around you a lasting, winning face for the ages.

4 Comments:

  • Great Pele pictures! Will you be doing a post regarding the upcoming World Cup? Who will play in the finals?

    By Blogger Jose Aguirre, at Mon Nov 14, 08:54:00 am GMT-5  

  • Great Pele pictures! Will you be doing a post regarding the upcoming World Cup? Who will play in the finals?

    As Groucho Marx would say, You bet your life!

    We went in 1998, after my dad suffered a heart-attack. It was, shall we say, a bonding experience.

    Hard to repeat, but maybe I'll go alone and report live from the TV there. ;)

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Mon Nov 14, 01:06:00 pm GMT-5  

  • I love the photo of Pele holding the ball. The light almost creates a halo around Pele that gives him an angel like appearance. How old is the bicycle kick photo?

    By Blogger Renato, at Mon Nov 14, 11:34:00 pm GMT-5  

  • I love the photo of Pele holding the ball. The light almost creates a halo around Pele that gives him an angel like appearance.

    Good pick up, Renato!

    He does look radiant in that photo, and even if it has the requisite re-touches to smooth out certain wrinkles, Pele doesn't look much older than his famous 1970 WC poses.

    It's incredible really, but it's the smile that gives him an eternally youthful appearance.

    How old is the bicycle kick photo?

    You know, I thought at first Lichfield must've done it years ago, but then I think it was for the FIFA centenary in 2003!

    Pele was born in 1941, so that means he bicycle-kicked when he was all of 62 years-old.

    Man, that's some flexibility he still has.

    I couldn't do that now!

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Tue Nov 15, 01:12:00 am GMT-5  

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