A famous pose
by Lewis Morley
Keeler left her home in Wraysbury, Berkshire for London aged sixteen and in 1960 was employed at Murray's cabaret club in Soho. Here she met Stephen Ward and soon after went to live with him. He introduced Keeler to the Conservative Minister of War, John Profumo, and Yevgeny Ivanov, the Soviet naval attaché, at Cliveden. Affairs with both provoked a major political scandal in 1963 and helped to pave the way for Labour's success at the following election. Keeler gained substantial payments for her story from newspapers worldwide after the scandal broke and has since written autobiographies Nothing But... (1983), Scandal! (1989), The Truth At Last (2001) and Secrets and Lies (2012).
Shortly after ‘The Profumo Affair’ was exposed in the newspapers, Christine Keeler was brought to Lewis Morley’s Studio above The Establishment satirical night club in Soho. A film company was intending to make a film about the scandal and required some publicity photographs. Keeler had initially agreed to being photographed nude but, when she arrived at the studio, felt reluctant to do so.
Lewis Morley began the photographic session by taking photographs of Keeler in her clothes but the representatives of the film company insisted that she pose nude. The photographer, sensing Keeler’s distress, suggested a way in which the matter could be resolved. He made the others present leave, and, turning his back while Keeler undressed, suggested that she posed on the studio chair placed back to front.
The contact sheets above are made from Lewis Morley’s original negatives from the photographic session. They were printed for his first retrospective exhibition held at the National Portrait Gallery in 1989.
Visit From Your Armchair
Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize
An online exhibition celebrating the very best in contemporary portrait photography.
Explore our community photography project, which presents a personal record of the UK during lockdown.
Sculptures in 360°
See sculptures and fascinating objects from our Collection from all angles.
David Hockney: Drawing from Life
Watch highlights from our special exhibition, which had to close early in March 2020 due to lockdown.