A captivating portrait of actress Madeleine Carroll, renowned as the original “Hitchcock Blonde,” is set to be auctioned at Christie’s in London. Painted by the illustrious Hungarian artist Philip Alexius de Laszlo in 1935, the same year Carroll starred in Alfred Hitchcock’s acclaimed spy thriller “The 39 Steps,” the portrait is anticipated to fetch between $60,000 and $87,000.
The artwork, officially titled “Mrs. Philip Astley, née Madeleine Carroll,” showcases the elegance and allure that Carroll brought to the silver screen, especially in her collaborations with Hitchcock. Following her roles in “The 39 Steps” and “Secret Agent” (1936), Carroll ascended to become one of the highest-paid actresses of her time, celebrated for her distinctive blonde beauty and compelling screen presence.
The portrait will be a featured item at Christie’s British & European Art sale, taking place on December 14 as part of the auction house’s “Classic Week.” The estimated price for this piece, 50,000 – 70,000 pounds (approximately $62,285 – $87,200), reflects both the artistic significance of de Laszlo’s work and Carroll’s iconic status in cinematic history.
Peter Brown, a senior director in the British and European art department at Christie’s, shared insights into the portrait’s background. “This was painted when (de Laszlo) was 66, so he was a very established portraitist by that stage but he was extremely keen to paint her because she was such a star,” he explained. The painting of Carroll is not just a tribute to her as an actress but also a testament to de Laszlo’s mastery as a portrait artist.
Currently on display alongside other highlights of Christie’s Classic Week, the portrait offers viewers a glimpse into the golden era of Hollywood and the artistic brilliance of the early 20th century. The auction presents a rare opportunity for collectors and enthusiasts of film history and fine art to own a piece that encapsulates the glamour and sophistication of a bygone era.