Malcolm Arbuthnot

Malcolm Arbuthnot
Birth and death
1877 - 1967
Related place

Malcolm Arbuthnot was born Malcolm Lewin Stockdale Parsons in Cobham. He was a photographer and artist, and in 1907 he joined the Brotherhood of the Linked Ring, which was founded in 1892 by artists disillusioned with the ethos of the Royal Photographic Society exhibitions. The aim of the brotherhood was to promote naturalistic photography as an independent art form. Shortly after joining the society however, Arbuthnot caused consternation amongst the brotherhood's members by making experimental combininations of photography and art, which used using gum and oil pigment processes to make anti-naturalistic prints. From 1914, he ran a portrait studio in London's New Bond Street, and photographed many celebrities of the early 1900s including the actress Lillah McCarthy, the pianist Harriet Cohen, the poet Robert Nichols, and his friend, the dramatist George Bernard Shaw. That same year, he was the only photographer to sign the manifesto of the Vorticism movement, which was published in the 1st issue of the arts magazine BLAST. His studio, along with many of his works, was later destroyed in a fire. After the 1st World War, he abandoned photography in favour of painting, producing oils, watercolours, and gouaches. He was married twice, first to Daisy [Florence Emily] Goold, which ended because of her adultery with the poet John Gould Fletcher, whom she subsequently married. A divorce settlement from Fletcher enabled Arbuthnot to establish his London portrait studio. His second wife Florence Annie Davison was the widow of George Davison, a millionaire investor in Kodak, and her inherited wealth enabled them both to retire to Jersey in 1931.


  • Malcolm Arbuthnot, 'The Linked Ring days' in The Photographic Journal of the Royal Photographic Society, 1955.
  • John Taylor, 'Malcolm Arbuthnot' in The Oxford Companion to the Photograph, edited by Robin Lenman, Oxford University Press, 2005.
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