The fascinating life and career of celebrated film star, fashion icon and humanitarian, Audrey Hepburn, will be explored in a new photography exhibition opening at the National Portrait Gallery
in July 2015, it was announced today (Tuesday 2 December 2014). Coinciding with the 65th anniversary of Hepburns little known career-changing performance at renowned West End night club Ciros, in the space now occupied by the Gallerys public Archive, the exhibition will bring together a remarkable selection of both classic and rarely seen photographs of the successful British actress.
Audrey Hepburn: Portraits of an Icon, from 2 July until 18 October 2015, will follow Hepburns rise to fame, from her early years in Holland and as a dancer and chorus girl in Londons 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 Londons leading nightclub Ciros, located on Orange Street and now the National Portrait Gallerys public Archive and study room, in Cecil Landeaus late-night production Petite Sauce Tartare in 1949 and Summer Nights in 1950. Hepburn's appearances at Ciros 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 Sabrina in 1953 and published as a photo essay in Life magazine, will offer a unique insight into Hepburns life on and off-set, as Shaw was granted unprecedented behind-the-scenes access for the photo essay.
Photographs 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 ONeills on-set photographs 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 Hepburns transformation throughout the 1950s, and her key roles on stage and screen.
Also included in the exhibition will be vintage magazine spreads, from the Picturegoer in 1952 to the front cover of Life magazine, featuring Hepburn in Givenchy for her role in Breakfast at Tiffanys in 1961, taken by Howell Conant. Original film posters and other ephemera will complete the story of one of the worlds most photographed women.
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 will follow 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).
Pim Baxter, Deputy Director, National Portrait Gallery, London, says: Audrey Hepburn was one of the worlds most celebrated actresses, and I am delighted that the National Portrait Gallery will hold a major photography exhibition exploring the life and work of such a significant and much-loved figure who spent the formative early years of her career in Britain. It is particularly appropriate that the exhibition will be staged in such close proximity to where she performed as a young woman at the very start of her career.
Born in Brussels, Belgium (1929), to a Dutch Baroness and 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 film 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, Hepburns 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.