{ feuilleton }


• • • Being a journal by artist and designer John Coulthart, cataloguing interests, obsessions and passing enthusiasms.


The Picture of Dorian Gray II


Oscar Wilde’s novel was filmed by Albert Lewin in 1945, a great adaptation with Hurd Hatfield playing Dorian, George Sanders as the aphoristic Lord Henry and Angela Lansbury as Sybil Vane. Lewin made a number of respectably arty films during the Forties and Fifties but Dorian Gray has always seemed the best to me, even if I am biased towards the story.


The film was shot in black and white but views of the painting were shown in colour. For the final view of Dorian’s decayed portrait he commissioned the hyper-real artist Ivan Albright (1897–1983) whose shockingly grotesque picture (below) provides a memorable climax to the film. That painting now resides in the Art Institute of Chicago.


Update: added a “before” view of the painting.

Update 2: added a link to a recent Wikipedia copy of the “after” picture that’s larger than previously available versions.

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The Oscar Wilde archive



Posted in {art}, {fantasy}, {film}, {gay}, {painting}.

Tags: , , , , .




23 comments or trackbacks

  1. #1 posted by Eroom Nala


    What about the Before portrait for a contrast?


    Not the best images but gives you some idea

  2. #2 posted by John


    I did consider it but couldn’t find a good enough picture.

  3. #3 posted by Eroom Nala


    More images including the before portrait in colour and a downloadable version of the film


  4. #4 posted by John


    Hmm, $10 for an mpeg download sounds like a lot when you could probably find a DVD for the same price.

    BTW, I have no idea why this meagre post is so popular unless people keep clicking it to find out why it’s at the top of the list.

  5. #5 posted by Eroom Nala


    Everyone wants to be young forever.

    Just don’t go about slashing your portrait.

  6. #6 posted by Jan Lee Martin



    I’ve discovered your site while looking for a good pic of Dorian Gray to accompany a story I am posting tonight….. now I’m writing to seek your permission to use the one you are using.

    We are a not-for-profit organisation established in Sydney (now also Melbourne) to explore the future and to help others do the same. In the expectation of your approval, I’ll post the pic tonight (I won’t have another chance for a week or so) but can remove it instantly if you tell me you’d like me to do that.

    Given your interest in Dorian, you might enjoy my story on longevity….

    Best wishes – Jan

    PS: By coincidence I found myself exploring the word “feuilleton” recently after it cropped up at a conference at Melk Abbey in Austria. See http://www.waldzell.org for more, if it interets you. Strong flavours of Hermann Hesse.

  7. #7 posted by John


    Hi Jan,

    As with many (most?) blogs, the images on these postings are often taken from prior sources so I don’t have any control over their copyright. Fair use rules in copyright generally allow you to repost things (espcially small images) if you’re not being exploitative but then I’m not a lawyer and different countries have different rules.


  8. #8 posted by Taylor


    Greetings. I just wanted to say that I love all of this work on Dorian Grey. I’m currently working on my own rendition for school, I’m 16, it’s a mixed media class. We have an option to do a “Free.” Painting, meaning no guidelines, no structure. I was so excited when I got this project, I knew right away what I wanted to do. I have researched the story before, but I just decided to get on and look at the rendidtion or the “Before” shot so that I could put myself a bit closer to it. See, I’ve only been around 16 years, so my painting shouldn’t be nearly as horrible. My teacher says that I’m very talented, and if she expected anyone to pull something like this off, it would be me. Thanks to whomever posted these things, great help!!!

  9. #9 posted by John


    Glad to be some help, Taylor. I’ve just noticed there’s a much bigger version of the Albright painting now online:


  10. #10 posted by Noel


    Hi John,

    Great blog. Been a big fan of this adaptation. After extensive search on the internet, it intrigues me that the whereabouts of the ‘before’ picture is unknown. Was it given to Mr Hatfield? Was it destroyed?

    Speaking of screen captures, I found a website that compared DVDs of this movie.


    meanwhile, my search continues.


  11. #11 posted by John


    Hi Noel, and thanks.

    I’d guess that the “before” picture was one of those portrait jobs produced by the studio art department. A prop in other words, and no doubt gone the way of most other prop paintings, either sold off or destroyed in a clearance. Would be good to hear it was still around, however.

    I also recommend the BBC adaptation by John Osborne. Not as lavish as Lewin’s version but it covers aspects of the story which Hollywood missed.

  12. #12 posted by Noel


    It would certainly make for good detective work if indeed the “before” portrait was sold off.

    Thanks for the link. It will be interesting to compare the two adaptations. I’m guessing the BBC adaptation is more faithful to the book.

    Just for interest some photos by LIFE magazine of the artists Ivan and Malvin Albright at work on the ‘decaying’ Dorian portraits for the movie. I note that they used mannequins.
    I initially thought the Albrights did both portraits, however when looking at the second photo of the ‘before’ portrait, it doesn’t resemble the portrait in the movie, so you may well be correct that a studio portrait was made.

  13. #13 posted by John


    The BBC version is more faithful in places although both adaptations necessarily skate through some of the story.

    Thanks for the LIFE links, those are fascinating and probably worth a post of their own. Going back to the film I realised I’d been rather hasty in assuming the “before” picture to be a studio job, it’s credited in the opening as being the work of a genuine portrait artist of the period, one Henrique Medina.

  14. #14 posted by Noel


    You are certainly more observant that I am! I never would have thought to have a look at the opening credits.

    Well so far, we know the painting was by Henrique Medina. Following on from that. I encountered a book called ‘Hollywood Cauldron’ by Gregory Mank (thanks to google books) which mentioned the “before” portrait during the making of the movie. The portrait was subsequently sold to a private collector at the MGM auction for $25,000. (pg 305). (I assume this to be the great MGM Auction of 1970). Anything beyond that is a mystery.

    At least I know now it was sold off and not destroyed.

    Thank you again John, much appreciated!

  15. #15 posted by Rodd Wayne


    The before picture of Dorian Gray was purchased by a friend of Hurd Hatfield’s and was given to him as a gift. Hurd Hatfield passed away in Ireland in 1998 where he had lived since the 70′s on land that he purchased near long time friend Angela Lansbury. I would imagine that the painting was willed to a relative.

  16. #16 posted by John


    Hi Rodd. There was further discussion about the “Before” portrait on this later post.

  17. #17 posted by Rodd Wayne


    Cheers John. I posted more info. in that thread as well. We will find that painting eventually. I am sure it is in someone’s attic. :-) Seriously , I am sure they are proudly displaying it. As they should.

  18. #18 posted by Rodd Wayne


    Although Hurd Hatfields home in Ireland has sold, here is a link to the listing which includes photographs. I do not know how long the page will be up as it has already sold. Enjoy. It is a charming place.


  19. #19 posted by Rodd Wayne


    Sadly, it looks as though the new owners have modernized the cottage and ruined its historical charm.


  20. #20 posted by Ann O'Sullivan


    I am the new owner of Ballinterry House. I don’t quite understand the last comment from Rodd Wayne 5/2/2012. ‘ Modernised the cottage’ and ruined what historical charm……. explain please !?? Have you been to the house recently and are you qualified to comment ?

  21. #21 posted by Ann O'Sullivan


    Just looked at your link Mr Wayne. According to the Irish Georgian Society Ballinterry House has been one of the most faithfully and sympathetically restored historical houses they have seen in recent years. The Conservation Department of Cork County Council has applauded our restoration. When we bought the house in 2007 the house it was on the point of dereliction and the ‘historical charm; you mention was purely superficial – behind the scenes the house was crumbling and indeed dangerouse. Again I would ask if you have visited our house since we purchased it and if not then I would ask that you refrain from commenting on something you clearly know nothing about. Incidentally one would hardly refer to a 6,000 square foot house as a ‘cottage’. Feel free to contact me if you would like to visit – we would be more than happy to show you the house. Regards.

  22. #22 posted by Rodd Wayne


    Thank you for your posting Ms. O’Sullivan. I am never too old to be corrected. My comments were hasty and based on but a few snaps of Ballinterry House. Indeed it is much more than a cottage as you say. Your new website shows so much more of the building and what you have done with it. I thought it was taken over by townies and didn’t realize the extensive care and thoughtful restoration that had taken place. Please accept my sincerest apologies. The only qualifications I had were my own personal opinions and even they were based on little information and outdated snaps. You have kept the historical charm and lovingly brought the old dear back to life. I look forward to the day that I can visit and receive my tongue thrashing followed by a good cup of tea. :-) Blessings on you and your household.
    Rodd Wayne Moffett

  23. #23 posted by Ann O'Sullivan


    Rodd thank you for your recent posting and I am very happy to accept you apology – perhaps I was somewhat ‘touchy’ about your comments, but we are so proud of our work here and have grown to love this beautiful house very much. I would be very happy to welcome you here – forget the ‘tongue thrashing’ – to share tea and take a tour of the house !! Ann O’Sullivan






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