Bertrand Russell was born today, May 18, in 1872 (d. 1970). Russell was a philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, writer, social critic, political activist, and Nobel laureate, winning the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1950, the year after this portrait was made. Karsh wrote:
‘Happiness,’ said the most controversial and certainly the most impish of modern philosophers, ‘comes from pandering to one’s self-esteem.’ I judged from the gleam of mischief in Lord Russell’s eye that this was likely to prove a controversial sitting. I was wrong. My subject delights to tilt with intellectual giants, he expresses a profound and almost terrifying pessimism, but is quite amenable before the camera. He distracted me with his dark thoughts when my mind should have been on my work.