The Gentle Eye Photographs by Jane Bown of The Observer

31 October 1980 to 29 March 1981

Press Notice

Jane Bown has been taking photographs for three decades, most of that time for The Observer. Though her subjects are often chosen for her, the treatment is her own. The camera is her seeing eye and she uses it fastidiously. The result is journalism of rare honesty, journalism raised to an art form.

This exhibition includes many of her distinctive portraits of celebrated figures past and present, among them Edith Sitwell, Albert Schweitzer, Hugh Gaitskell, Aneurin Bevan, Mick Jagger, Jonathan Miller, Edward Heath and Princess Anne. All are usually relaxed, with the essence of their personalities captured forever. Also on show are a number of Jane Bown’s photographs of the British at work and at play – a telling contribution to the social record of our times.

Exhibition leaflet

It is exactly twelve years since the National Portrait Gallery first showed the work of a contemporary photographer. That photographer was the late Cecil Beaton, and the exhibition marked a major step forward in Britain’s revival during the 1970s of serious interest in art photography. The Gallery’s photographic exhibitions in that decade were many and varied, but none was devoted to a working newspaper photographer. So The Gentle Eye, a selection from thirty years of Jane Bown’s original, elegant and humane photographs, is long overdue – and very welcome.

Miss Bown’s pictures were all taken for The Observer. This is the first exhibition which the National Portrait Gallery has presented in association with that newspaper and we are extremely grateful for their generous sponsorship. Together we hope to bring to a new audience the pleasure that Jane Bown’s photographs have been giving to so many people for three decades.

John Hayes, Director

Handlist

1. Male statue, Crystal Palace, 1952

2. Female statue, Crystal Palace, 1952

3. Nannies by the Serpentine, 1957

4. Ascot, 1953

5. August Bank Holiday, 1954

6. Cowes, 1952

7. Sheep, 1954

8. Sir John Barbirolli, 1969
x28612

9. Dame Edith Sitwell, 1959
x28632

10. Albert Schweitzer, 1955

11. The Rt Hon Roy Jenkins, 1977
x28624

12. Paul Getty, 1957

13. Jonathan Miller, 1954
P375

14. Dylan Thomas, 1953
x28634

15. Bird of Paradise, Exhibition of Caged Birds, Alexandra Palace, 1974

16. The Rt Hon Jennie Lee, Labour Party Conference, 1957
x28626

17. The Rt Hon Hugh Gaitskell and The Rt Hon Aneurin Bevan, Labour Party Conference, 1957
x28619

18. Cat in quarantine, 1970

19. Preparations for the Queen’s Birthday Salute, Hyde Park, 1973

20. James Baldwin, 1968

21. Sir Robert Mayer’s one hundredth birthday, 1979
x126872

22. Iris Murdoch, 1978
x28628

23. Tennessee Williams, 1979

24. Billie Whitelaw, 1969
x28636

25. Natalia Makarova, 1977
x28639

26. Marcel Marceau backstage in the Theatre Royal, Norwich, 1978

27. Henri Cartier-Bresson, 1957

28. Fred Streeter, 1971

29. S.J. Perelman, 1978

30. Cardinal Josef Mindszenty, 1973

31. King Faisal, 1967

32. Jeanne Moreau, 1967

33. Hermione Gingold, 1969
x28621

34. Princess Anne, 1980
x126871

35. Back street in Batley, Yorkshire, 1974

36. After Aberfan, 1967

37. Dockers’ Strike, Clydeside, 1971

38. Fuel crisis, London, 1957

39. Farmer Dick Martin inspecting his barley, 1976

40. St Bartholomew’s Fair, 1973

41. Sikhs in Hyde Park, 1976

42. Cannes, 1958

43. Noel Coward, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, guests at a society wedding, 1968
x28637

44. Sir Cecil Beaton at home in Broadchalke, Wiltshire, 1974
x28614

45. Duncan Grant, 1978
x28622

46. Angelica Garnett at Duncan Grant’s house, Charleston, Sussex, 1979
x28620

47. Roy Campbell, 1951
P378

48. St James’s Park, 1980

49. Game Fair at Stratfield Saye, 1977

50. Oz Trial, 1971

51. King’s Road, 1969

52. J.B. Priestley, 1980

53. Vanessa Redgrave as Agatha Christie, 1977

54. Yevgeny Game Fair at Stratfield Saye, 1977

50. Oz Trial, 1971

51. King’s Road, 1969

52. J.B. Priestley, 1980
x28630

53. Vanessa Redgrave as Agatha Christie, 1977
x28631

54. Yevgeny Yevtushenko, 1976

55. Mother Teresa, 1971
x28633

56. Samuel Beckett, 1976
P373

57. The Rt Hon Edward Heath, 1978
P377

58. Cardinal Hume, 1976
x127296

59. Archbishop Fisher and Cardinal Heenan, Lambeth Conference, 1968
x28618

60. Archbishop Ramsey in retreat, 1968
x283635

61. Sir John Betjeman, 1972
x28616

62. Mick Jagger, 1973
P376

63. John Osborne, 1979
x28629

64. Richard Ingrams and Malcolm Muggeridge, 1977
x28623

65. Butterfly man, Hackney Marshes, 1979

66. Bee lady, Billington Priory, Kent, 1976

67. Pumpkins, 1955

68. Mrs Selly’s harvest picnic, 1960

69. Postman’s picnic, 1966

70. Mothers’ Union parade, 1976

71. St Mark’s Square, Venice, 1977