Yousuf Karsh

Sir John Buchan, 1st Baron Tweedsmuir, 1875 - 1940. Author; Governor General of Canada (1937)

About this artwork

In 1935 Perth-born John Buchan became Governor-General of Canada. He toured the country extensively and developed a great admiration for it. Yousuf Karsh has looked at Buchan's thin face and hair, slicked down to his skull. He has appreciated that this headdress - a formal symbol of admiration from the Blood tribe - adds height and a back frame to Buchan's profile, and gives him the same kind of dignity and force he admired in the Canadian people.

Yousuf Karsh

Yousuf Karsh

Armenian-born Karsh lived through the 1915 genocide in his homeland, emigrating to Canada to live with his uncle in 1924. After being apprenticed to the Boston photographer, John Garo, he set up his own studio in Ottawa in 1932. A portrait photographer, Karsh became internationally known for his 1941 portrait of Winston Churchill. Among his famous sitters were Albert Einstein, Ernest Hemingway and Pablo Picasso. Karsh endeavoured to record the elusive personalities of his sitters when for 'a brief moment all that there is in a man's mind and soul and spirit may be reflected through his eyes, his hands, his attitude'.