Vanity Fair's first period is represented in the exhibition with a series of portraits of celebrated subjects such as Albert Einstein, Charlie Chaplin and Jean Harlow by legendary photographers, among them Edward Steichen, Cecil Beaton, Baron De Meyer, Man Ray and George Hurrell.
From the magazine's beginning in 1914, British, Irish and American authors were frequently profiled and their writings published in Vanity Fair, and among the vintage portraits shown in the exhibition are iconic images of H.G. Wells, James Joyce, D.H. Lawrence, Rebecca West, Ernest Hemingway and George Bernard Shaw.
The magazine's mix of artistic seriousness and popular celebrity meant that commissioned portraits of these authors and artists such as Claude Monet, Augustus John and the leaders of the avant-garde (photographed by Man Ray), were displayed alongside profiles of actors, musicians and athletes.
Vanity Fair Portraits also presents a rare opportunity to see some of the definitive portraits of the 'Jazz Age', including now classic studies of Louis Armstrong, Josephine Baker and Noel Coward. The selection of portraits also includes some previously unpublished and unseen images, including two portraits of author Virginia Woolf from a sitting with photographers Maurice Beck and Helen MacGregor in 1924.