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Diana, Princess of Wales

© David Bailey

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Diana, Princess of Wales

by David Bailey
bromide print, 1988
19 7/8 in. x 14 3/4 in. (504 mm x 373 mm)
Commissioned, 1989
Primary Collection
NPG P397

Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

  • David Bailey (1938-), Photographer and film-maker. Artist of 35 portraits, Sitter in 19 portraits.

This portraitback to top

Eight years after Bryan Organ painted the princess to commemorate her wedding, the National Portrait Gallery wished to commission a new portrait by a leading British photographer. Norman Parkinson, a photographer with a track record in photography royalty, was initially suggested, but the princess clearly preferred David Bailey. A number of formal and informal portraits were made during this shoot and she was delighted with this elegant portrait that demonstrates her emerging sense of style.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Cooper, John, Great Britons: The Great Debate, 2002, p. 160 Read entry

    The Sloane Ranger gave way to the outwardly confident, glamorous, funny, flirtatious, media-savvy celebrity.

  • Rogers, Malcolm, Camera Portraits, 1989 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 20 October 1989 - 21 January 1990), p. 315 Read entry

    Lady Diana Spencer, daughter of the 8th Earl Spencer, married the Prince of Wales in July 1981. The couple have two children, Prince William (born 1982) and Prince Henry (born 1984). Fun-loving, elegant and goodlooking, she makes the perfect foil to her husband. The Princess has been increasingly involved in work for charity, and shows particular interest in children, and in drugs- and AIDS-related causes. In Britain and on her many tours abroad, in private and in public life, she has become a leader of fashion with an assured style of her own.

    David Bailey was born in East London, left school aged fifteen, and, after national service in Singapore and Malaya, began work as assistant to the fashion photographer John French and produced his first work for Vogue in 1960. He starred in a series of television advertisements for Olympus, and as a result he is now the most famous living British photographer. To both fashion and portrait photography he has brought qualities of fantasy and invention, which can make him seem eclectic. In his non-commissioned work he has revealed an endless creative fascination with the female body. He has published numerous books of his work, including David Bailey’s Box of Pin-ups (1965), Goodbye Baby & Amen (1969), Beady Minces (1973) and Trouble and Strife (1980), which appeared in America as Mrs David Bailey. For his portrait of the Princess he takes an uncharacteristically straightforward approach, and produces a classically elegant study in black and white.

  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 177

Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top

Events of 1988back to top

Current affairs

A Pan Am jumbo jet is brought down by a bomb over Lockerbie in Scotland, killing 259 passengers and 11 people on the ground. The Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary launched Britain's largest criminal investigation before convicting a Libyan intelligence officer of planting the bomb.

Art and science

Professor Stephen Hawking publishes his popular book on cosmology, A Brief History Of Time.
Damien Hirst and his fellow Goldsmiths students organise the exhibition Freeze in a disused block in the Docklands. The exhibition launched the careers of many of the young British artists (YBAs) associated with Brit Art including Gary Hume, Michael Landy, Sarah Lucas, Angus Fairhurst, and Anya Gallaccio.


Iraq drops poison gas on the Iraqi Kurdish city of Halabja, killing thousands of civilians. The city was held at the time by Iranian forces and Iraqi Kurdish rebels, although there was initially some debate over which side was responsible for the atrocity. It was the largest-scale chemical attack on civilians in modern times.

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