More than thirty photographs of Audrey Hepburn from the personal collection of her sons, Sean Hepburn Ferrer and Luca Dotti, will go on display in the National Portrait Gallery’s exhibition Audrey Hepburn: Portraits of an Icon, July 2 – October 18, 2015. This major photography exhibition explores the life and career of the celebrated film star, fashion icon and humanitarian, and is the first British exhibition to be organized with support from the Audrey Hepburn Estate.
This remarkable selection of photographs includes an array of images of Hepburn taken throughout her lifetime, from early photographs of her before she was famous to formal portraits and photographs taken on set during the making of some of her most loved films.
Included in the selection of photographs lent to the exhibition by Hepburn’s sons Sean Hepburn Ferrer and Luca Dotti, some of which have never been seen before in the UK, is a portrait of Hepburn performing a dance recital in 1942, aged thirteen, and a rarely seen photograph of her taken on location in Africa during the filming of The Nun’s Story by Leo Fuchs in 1958.
Also included is a behind-the-scenes photograph of Hepburn wearing a costume designed by Edith Head during a fitting for her title role in Sabrina (released 1954).
The earliest portrait on loan from the collection of the Audrey Hepburn Estate is from 1938, showing Hepburn as a nine-year-old girl, and the most recent is from her last major photo shoot, taken by Steven Meisel in 1991.
The exhibition follows Hepburn’s rise to fame, from her early years in the Netherlands and as a dancer and chorus girl in London’s West End, to her becoming a stage and screen icon, and culminating in her philanthropic work in later life. The exhibition showcases rarely seen photographs from the Audrey Hepburn Estate along with iconic portraits of Hepburn by leading photographers of the twentieth century, including Richard Avedon, Cecil Beaton, Angus McBean, Irving Penn, Terry O’Neill and Norman Parkinson.
Highlights from the exhibition includes examples of her early work in London as a fashion model for photographs by Antony Beauchamp for the department store Marshall & Snelgrove, and the highly successful Crookes Lacto-Calamine skin-cream campaign, photographed by Angus McBean in 1950. Photographs by Larry Fried, showing Hepburn in her dressing room on Broadway for Gigi (1951); Hepburn captured in Italy at the time of filming War and Peace (1955) by Philippe Halsman and George Daniell; publicity photographs for Funny Face (1957); and Terry O’Neill’s photographs taken during the making of films How to Steal a Million (1966) and Two for the Road (1967), will be among the portraits on show, documenting Hepburn’s transformation throughout the 1950s and 1960s, and her key roles on stage and screen.
Also included in the exhibition are vintage magazine covers, from the Picturegoer in 1952 to the front cover of Life magazine featuring Hepburn in Givenchy for her role in Breakfast at Tiffany’s in 1961, taken by Howell Conant. Original film stills and ephemera will complete the story of one of the world’s most photographed women.
Dr Nicholas Cullinan, Director, National Portrait Gallery, London, says: ‘I am delighted that we are able to exhibit these beautiful and rare photographs of Audrey Hepburn, which will form a very special part of this exhibition celebrating a remarkable 20th century icon. We are hugely grateful to Luca Dotti and Sean Hepburn Ferrer for their generous contribution and for their ongoing support of this exhibition.’
Luca Dotti says: ‘We are thrilled to be able to support this comprehensive and beautifully curated exhibition dedicated to our mother as it allows me and my brother Sean to grasp fragments of an otherwise unreachable past. The experience is all the more rewarding as the exhibition strives to go behind the scenes and give us rare insights into the making of Audrey Hepburn, from her London debut and her rise to stardom in the 50s and 60s, to the last season of her life.
‘She would be honoured to have an exhibition dedicated to her at the National Portrait Gallery. And glad to be back home.’
Co-curated by Terence Pepper, Senior Special Advisor on Photographs, National Portrait Gallery and Helen Trompeteler, Associate Curator of Photographs, National Portrait Gallery, Audrey Hepburn: Portraits of an Icon follows the captivating rise of one of the world’s first truly international stars. Pepper has curated a number of high profile photographic exhibitions for the Gallery, including Cecil Beaton Portraits (2004), Angus McBean Portraits (2006), Vanity Fair Portraits (2008) and previously worked with Trompeteler on Man Ray Portraits (2013). Trompeteler’s past displays include Snowdon: A Life in View (2014), Fred Daniels: Cinema Portraits (2012) and Format Photography Agency (2010).
Born in Brussels, Belgium (1929), to a Dutch Baroness and an Anglo-Irish father, Hepburn moved to London from Amsterdam in late 1948 to take up a ballet scholarship at the Rambert Ballet School in Notting Hill. After a number of important stage performances as a chorus girl in the West End, Hepburn made her earliest screen debuts in British films. Her critically acclaimed stage performance in Gigi (1951) introduced Hepburn to American theatre audiences and confirmed her position as a new star. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Hepburn’s career flourished with a string of highly successful roles, and she became the first actress to win an Academy Award, Golden Globe, and BAFTA Award for a single performance (her leading role in Roman Holiday, 1953). Hepburn worked as a Unicef ambassador from 1988 until her death in 1993. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1992 in recognition of her contribution to the arts and her humanitarian work.
Including voluntary donation: Adult £10 / Concessions £8.50
Standard price: Adult: £9 / Concessions £7.50
A beautifully illustrated catalogue will accompany the exhibition including an essay by Helen Trompeteler and a chronology by Terence Pepper along with over 145 portraits and supporting images. The catalogue will be available to purchase from National Portrait Gallery Shops and online as hardback (RRP £29.95) and paperback (exclusive to the Gallery, RRP £19.95).
The exhibition will have a dedicated programme of associated events and talks taking place throughout its display period at the Gallery.
In partnership with the iconic Covent Garden Hotel, one lucky winner can enjoy a luxurious overnight stay for two people, including breakfast, along with a pair of tickets to Audrey Hepburn: Portraits of an Icon and a copy of the exhibition catalogue. Competition closes on 26 June 2015, enter online and see full terms and conditions at npg.org.uk/hepburn
Audrey Hepburn: Portraits of an Icon will tour to The Wilson, Cheltenham Museum & Art Gallery, from 14 November 2015 – 31 January 2016.
National Portrait Gallery, St Martin’s Place WC2H 0HE, opening hours Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday: 10.00 – 18.00 (Gallery closure commences at 17.50) Late Opening: Thursday, Friday: 10.00 – 21.00 (Gallery closure commences at 20.50) Nearest Underground: Leicester Square/Charing Cross General information: 0207 306 0055 Recorded information: 020 7312 2463 Website npg.org.uk
Lia Chang is an actor, a performance and fine art botanical photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon and Taxman. She has guest starred on “One Life to Live,” “As the World Turns,” and “New York Undercover.” She is profiled in Jade Magazine.
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