Hepburn at the National Portrait Gallery

Artists and Designers Exhibitions Fashion Selvedge shows and workshops

To the twenty-first century eye, the image of Audrey Hepburn seems as recognisable as the reflection that greets you in the mirror when you brush your teeth. While her three decades in Hollywood could have been enough to ensure her standing as one of the visual icons of the twentieth century alone, her image has been cemented by photographers throughout her career. Her different personas: actress, dancer, philanthropist, fashion muse, mother and wife are all revealed by her photographic portraits. Portraits of an Icon at the National Portrait Gallery – which is partially curated by her sons Luca Dotti and Sean Hepburn Ferrer – draws these strands together in a glimpse of Hepburn that is both intimate and multifaceted. Audrey-Hepburn-by-Philippe-Halsman The omnipresence of her image, through her iconic film posters, or even in posthumous advertising campaigns, could have the ability to take away some of the freshness of the exhibition, which features a mix of classic and newer images. However, the collection is imbued with that enigmatic quality that makes Hepburn's image so timeless. p91-4col Whether posing head to toe in Givenchy, or in character as Natasha in War and Peace (1956), there is something in her expression which renders her unknowable. This elusiveness, based on the emotional, rather than logical, sense of vulnerability that the viewer finds in her large-eyed, thin-boned profile, is a catalyst for her global success as a photographic subject. In each portrait, both the viewer and the photographer are looking for, and finding, something new. 62266 From top: Audrey Hepburn in Rome by Cecil Beaton, 1960 ©The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby's Audrey Hepburn by Philippe Halsman for LIFE magazine, 1954 ©Philipe Halsman/Magnum Photos Audrey Hepburn by Erwin Blumenfeld, 1952 ©The Estate of Erwin Blumenfeld Costume test for Sabrina, Paramount Pictures, 1953

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