Downton Abbey star Maggie Smith. An important display of portraits by Snowdon from the 1950s to the 1990s has opened at the National Portrait Gallery, London, it was announced today, Friday 26 September, 2014.
The display includes portraits from his recently announced gift, one of the largest in its history, of 130 original prints to the gallery, of some of his most iconic photographs. Highlights include from 1978 actor Terence Stamp dramatically clothed up to his neck in a cape and Dame Maggie Smith photographed with a cigarette and script in hand rehearsing the title role in Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler for Ingmar Bergman in 1970.
There are also striking gestural portraits of the journalist and Sunday Times editor Sir Harold Evans from 1980 and an imaginatively composed study of light and shadow of the artists Gilbert and George in 1985.
Coinciding with a new monograph published by Rizzoli, Snowdon: A Life in View (26 Sep 2014-21 Jun 2015), will highlight studio portraits from the 1950s to the 1990s, alongside selections from Private View Snowdon’s important 1965 examination of the British art world created in collaboration with art critic John Russell and Bryan Robertson, then director of the Whitechapel Art Gallery.
Curated in close consultation with the photographer’s daughter Frances von Hofmannsthal, the display includes over 30 black-and-white portraits taken throughout his expansive and influential career.
When he started photographing in the early 1950s Snowdon focused on theatre, fashion, and society subjects, and began a six-decade career with British Vogue. In 1960, he married Princess Margaret, the sister of Queen Elizabeth II, in the first globally televised royal wedding. In the early 1960s Snowdon worked with The Sunday Times Magazine on a range of documentary subjects from mental health to loneliness.
Since then Snowdon has photographed a vast range of cultural figures and the display includes portraits of actors such as Dame Maggie Smith, John Hurt and Julie Christie, writers such as Nell Dunn, Dame Agatha Christie and Graham Greene and musicians and dancers such as George Melly, Sir Anthony Dowell and Dame Margot Fonteyn. Figures from the art world include Anthony Blunt, Henry Moore and Dame Barbara Hepworth, Lord Kenneth Clarke and John Piper. A selection of portraits of the Royal Family from the 1950s is also included.
Snowdon: A Life in View, National Portrait Gallery, 26 Sep 2014-21 Jun 2015, admission free www.npg.org.uk
Room 37 and 37a, Ground Floor Lerner Contemporary Galleries Press View: Friday 26 September 10 00-12 00