65 years after Audrey Hepburn performed at renowned West End night club Ciro’s, the space on Orange Street now used by the National Portrait Gallery as a public archive, the gallery hosts a major exhibition celebrating the life of this much celebrated film star and fashion icon.
This life-changing performance took place as part of Cecil Landeau’s late-night production Petite Sauce Tartare in 1949, followed by a role in his Summer Nights in 1950, and it was here that Hepburn’s London career was launched and she was talent-spotted for British films including One Wild Oat (1951), Laughter in Paradise (1951) and Secret People (1952).
Including well-known classic images and rarely seen photographs held by the collection of the Hepburn family, the exhibition will follow Hepburn through her childhood in Holland, as a dancer in London’s West End, right up to the pinnacle of her career as a stage and screen icon, before exploring the philanthropy and humanitarian work of her later life, as a Unicef ambassador.
The exhibition is a rare chance to not only see family photographs of Hepburn practising ballet as a girl, or in early fashion shoots, but also see the works of several leading photographers of the twentieth century such as Richard Avedon, Cecil Beaton, Angus McBean, Antony Beauchamp, Irving Penn and Norman Parkinson under one roof.
Further images include a candid series taken by Mark Shaw who was granted unprecedented behind-the-scenes access during the making of Sabrina in 1953, giving an insight into the great actresses’ off-screen life; images of Hepburn in her dressing room on Broadway by Larry Freid; publicity photographs for Funny Face (1957 and several vintage magazine spreads – including the front cover of Life magazine, featuring Hepburn in Givenchy for her role in Breakfast at Tiffany’s in 1961.
Audrey Hepburn: Portraits of an Icon, 2 July – 18 October, National Portrait Gallery, St Martin’s Place, WC2H 0HE/ For more information visit www.npg.org.uk
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1. Audrey Hepburn on location in Africa for The Nuns Story by Leo Fuchs, (1958). Copyright: Leo Fuchs. Courtesy of National Portrait Gallery