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Margaret Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher, by Helmut Newton, 1991 - NPG P507 - © HELMUT NEWTON / Maconochie Photography

© HELMUT NEWTON / Maconochie Photography

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Margaret Thatcher

by Helmut Newton
bromide print, 1991
77 3/8 in. x 46 1/4 in. (1964 mm x 1176 mm)
Purchased, 1991
Primary Collection
NPG P507

Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

  • Helmut Newton (1920-2004), Photographer. Artist of 2 portraits, Sitter in 2 portraits.

This portraitback to top

Commissioned by Vanity Fair, the portrait was taken in California. When the photographer Helmut Newton met Margaret Thatcher in 1991, she refused to pose without smiling in case she looked 'disagreeable'. She eventually gave in and Newton's bold image captures Thatcher's determination and femininity, nevertheless she claimed to hate this portrait. Newton, internationally renowned for his images of sexuality and power, was given just a few moments for the sitting.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Cooper, John, Visitor's Guide, 2000, p. 100
  • John Cooper, National Portrait Gallery Visitor's Guide, 2006, p. 100
  • Parris, Matthew, Heroes and Villains: Scarfe at the National Portrait Gallery, 2003 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 30 September 2003 to 4 April 2004), p. 128
  • Saumarez Smith, Charles, The National Portrait Gallery: An Illustrated Guide, 2000, p. 226
  • Saumarez Smith, Charles, The National Portrait Gallery, 1997, p. 226 Read entry

    This huge and mildly alarming photograph of the former Prime Minister looking regal has always intrigued me as to why on earth she came to sit to a photographer who is best known for elegantly erotic shots of young girls. The answer is that Margaret Thatcher was the woman in the world whom Helmut Newton most admired. For years he wrote asking her to sit to him, and in 1991 she finally agreed. Newton produced a picture of her after she had fallen from power, which demonstrates her remarkable force of character.

  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 611

Placesback to top

Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top

Events of 1991back to top

Current affairs

Publishing tycoon Robert Maxwell dies after falling from his yacht in the Canary Islands. Although the verdict was 'accidental death', suspicions of suicide or murder were raised because of his alleged connections to Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service, and the revelation that he had used hundreds of millions of pounds from his companies' pension funds to finance his corporate debt and lavish lifestyle.

Art and science

Freddie Mercury, lead singer of the rock group Queen, dies of Aids.
Marc Quinn brings a new meaning to the term 'Self-Portrait' with his work Self, a cast of the artists' head made out of his own blood.


Members of the USSR sign the Alma-Ata Protocol, disbanding the Union in favour of a Commonwealth of Independent States, thereby granting independence to the various republics.
The Revolutionary United Front begins a civil war against the government of Sierra Leone in West Africa. Tens of thousands die in eleven years of violence.
Civil War breaks out in the former Yugoslavia as Slovenia and Croatia declare their independence.

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