65 years ago, Audrey Hepburn was a struggling actress and dancer in London, working occasionally in the renowned West End night club Ciro’s. That space is now home to the National Portrait Gallery’s Heinz Archive and Library, and now to celebrate the iconic figure the gallery is to stage an exhibition which will bring together a remarkable selection of both classic and rarely seen photographs.
Audrey Hepburn: Portraits of an Icon, which will run from 2 July until 18 October 2015, will follow Hepburn’s rise to fame, from her early years in Holland and as a dancer and chorus girl in London’s West End, to her becoming a stage and screen icon, culminating in her philanthropic work in later life.
The exhibition will showcase rarely seen photographs from the collection of the Hepburn family along with iconic portraits of Hepburn by leading photographers of the twentieth century, including Richard Avedon, Cecil Beaton, Angus McBean, Irving Penn and Norman Parkinson.
Hepburn performed in revues at Ciro’s, located on Orange Street, in Cecil Landeau’s late-night production Petite Sauce Tartare in 1949 and Summer Nights in 1950. Hepburn’s appearances at Ciro’s in her early twenties were some of the earliest in London and contributed towards the launch of her career, leading to her being talent spotted for a number of early British films including One Wild Oat (1951), Laughter in Paradise (1951) and Secret People (1952.)
Highlights from the exhibition will include family photographs of Hepburn practising ballet as a young woman, and examples of her early work in London as a fashion model for photographs by Antony Beauchamp, in addition to the highly successful Crookes Lacto-Calamine skin cream campaign, photographed by Angus McBean in 1950.
A rarely seen series of photographs by Mark Shaw, taken during the making of Sabrinain 1953 and published as a photo essay in Life magazine, will offer a unique insight into Hepburn’s life on and off-set, as Shaw was granted unprecedented behind-the-scenes access for the photo essay.
Other photographs include those by Larry Fried, showing Hepburn in her dressing room on Broadway for Gigi (1951); Hepburn captured in Italy during the filming of War and Peace (1955) by Philippe Halsman and George Daniell; publicity photographs for Funny Face (1957); and Terry O’Neill’s on-set photographs during the making of films How to Steal a Million(1966) and Two for the Road (1967). They document Hepburn’s transformation throughout the 1950s, and her key roles on stage and screen.
Also included in the exhibition will be vintage magazine spreads, from the Picturegoerin 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 posters and other ephemera will complete the story of one of the world’s most photographed women.
AUDREY HEPBURN: PORTRAITS OF AN ICON
The exhibition runs from 2 July until 18 October 2015 at the National Portrait Gallery, London
Including voluntary donation: Adult £10 / Concessions £8.50
Standard price: Adult: £9 / Concessions £7.50
An illustrated catalogue will accompany the exhibition, including over 60 portraits, some of which are rare and previously unpublished, will be available to purchase from National Portrait Gallery Shops and online as hardback (RRP £29.95) and paperback (exclusive to the Gallery, RRP £22.50).