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Audrey Hepburn

6 of 53 portraits of Audrey Hepburn

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Audrey Hepburn

by Angus McBean
bromide print, October 1950
17 1/2 in. x 13 7/8 in. (444 mm x 354 mm)
Given by the photographer, Angus McBean, 1985
Photographs Collection
NPG x25145

Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

  • Angus McBean (1904-1990), Photographer. Artist or producer associated with 283 portraits, Sitter in 79 portraits.

This portraitback to top

McBean photographed Hepburn in 1956 and noted that he paid her a £4 modelling fee.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Muir, Robin, The World's Most Photographed, 2005 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 6 July to 23 October 2005), p. 128
  • Pepper, Terence, Angus McBean Portraits, 2006 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 5 July to 22 October 2006), p. 88 Read entry

    McBean photographed Hepburn on three occasions, all at the very start of her career, before she became a film star. He first photographed her as one of the three leads in the revue Sauce Tartare, billed on the programme as 'London’s Gayest Musical', which opened at the Cambridge Theatre in 1949. When approached the following year to shoot an advertising campaign with a new face, McBean remembered Hepburn’s gamine looks from the first commission and booked her at the usual low fashion-model rates of the time. The Crookes lacto-calamine skin-cream advertising campaign, launched in the summer of 1951, was hugely successful, appearing in glossy fashion magazines such as Vogue and the Tatter and Bystander, as well as on freestanding advertisements in chemists' shops. McBean’s photograph is one of his most reproduced and anthologized. The following summer a second pose from the session showed Hepburn in a polka-dot swimming costume with the strapline: 'Your skin is not for burning', inspired by the hit Christopher Fry play. Other poses from the session, now in the Harvard Theatre Collection, show her looking equally cool in dark glasses. By the time the second advertisement appeared in July 1952 Hepburn had already filmed Monte Carlo Baby (1951) on the French Riviera, where she met the French writer Colette, who selected her for a Broadway production of Gigi. She had also been photographed by Richard Avedon (the inspiration for Funny Face; 1957) and was filming Roman Holiday (1953), her first major film.

  • Terence Pepper; Helen Trompeteler, Audrey Hepburn: Portraits of an Icon, 2015 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 2 July - 18 October 2015), p. 59

Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top

Events of 1950back to top

Current affairs

Princess Anne is born at Clarence house, the only daughter of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip.

Art and science

C.S. Lewis publishes The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, the first book in the Chronicles of Narnia series. Lewis was an Oxford Don, specialising in Medieval Literature and its use of allegory. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is often seen as an allegory of the Christian struggle between good and evil.


Following the Soviet and American withdrawal from the occupation of North and South Korea respectively, the Korean War breaks out as each side seeks to unify Korea under its own political system. While the U.S.A., U.K and other UN nations came to the defence of South Korea, North Korea had support from the Soviet Union and China. The war continued until 1953.

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