Audrey Hepburn: Portraits of an Icon is the latest photographic exhibition by the National Portrait Gallery and, organised with support from the Audrey Hepburn Estate, provides a fascinating glimpse into the life of one of the world’s best loved screen actresses; spanning her early years in London as a student of ballet and a chorus girl in the West End through to her glittering Hollywood career and her philanthropic work in later life.
Considered one of the most photogenic women of the 20th century, Hepburn was born Audrey Kathleen Ruston in 1929 in Brussels to parents of Dutch, English and Austrian descent and spent her childhood travelling between Belgium, England and the Netherlands. She suffered near-starvation during World War II from which she was saved by UNICEF, a foundation she would go on to become a special ambassador of.
The exhibition features an impressive selection of more than seventy photographs and is also an opportunity to view rarely seen prints of Hepburn by leading twentieth-century photographers such as Richard Avedon, Terry O’Neill, Norman Parkinson, Irving Penn and Cecil Beaton who, famous for his scathing observations of the many stars he photographed, recognised in Hepburn an ‘inherent star quality’.
Alongside these striking portraits, which continue to define Hepburn’s image and were instrumental in shaping her career, you will find images of her off-set during the production of some of her most famous films, besides intimate family photographs and informal archive news pictures.
There is also an array of vintage magazine covers including Harper’s Bazaar, film stills, and archival material to complete the story of Hepburn’s cataclysmic rise to stardom and her enduring popularity as both a film star and a fashion icon two decades on from her death in 1993.
Audrey Hepburn: Portraits of an Icon is at the National Portrait Gallery, London, until 18th October 2015. For more information and tickets visit the website.