Title: St. Mawr & The Man Who Died

Photographer: Edward Weston
Author: D.H. Lawrence
Publisher: Vintage
Designer: Not listed


Image Title: D.H. Lawrence 1924
Photo Genre: Portraiture
Book Genre: Novels

  In early November of 1924, the writer D.H. Lawrence had his photographic portrait made in Mexico by Edward Weston. While Lawrence was apparently satisfied with the result, Weston was less than pleased, having felt that, in addition to the sitting being too brief for either artist to connect more than superficially, the resulting negatives were below par from a technical standpoint, and, as Weston wrote in his daybook about this very photograph, "...unless I pull a technically fine print from a technically fine negative, the emotional or intellectual value of the photograph is for me almost negated..."

  Personally, I've never been terribly excited about this image; it has always seemed rather flat and unremarkable. But neither my skepticism nor Weston's complaints have prevented his portrait of Lawrence from being exhibited and published, to the point where it may now be considered one of the defining likenesses of D.H. Lawrence; not only is it reproduced on the covers of a number of books of and about Lawrence's work (as in the Vintage paperback publication of St. Mawr and The Man Who Died, shown here), but it has served as the source image for several drawn cover portraits as well. The four examples found by clicking 'Point of Interest', at right, range from the literal renderings of Keith Sagar's D.H. Lawrence: Life into Art and Alastair Niven's D.H. Lawrence: The Novels, to the more expressionist-like cover of D.H. Lawrence and The Dial, and, perhaps my personal favorite, The Novels of D.H. Lawrence: A Search for Integration, where Lawrence has been montaged via drawing with a stack of books and wrapped around the front, back and spine of a popsicle orange dust jacket.  KB