Audrey Hepburn exhibition to open at the NPG in 2015

Audrey Hepburn: Portrait of an Icon exhibition to be staged on site of night club where she got her big break

Audrey Hepburn by Bud Fraker

The glamorous style icon that is Audrey Hepburn will be celebrated in a new exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery opening in July 2015, on the very same site at which she was first talent spotted.

Coinciding with the 65th anniversary of the actress’ performance as a dancer and chorus girl in Petite Sauce Tartare at night club Ciro’s (which is now part of the NPG), the display will explore Hepburn’s fascinating life and career. From her performance in the West End’s Ciro’s, to her seminal turn as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, she flitted between the role of film star, fashion icon, and humanitarian. And this collection of both classic and rarely seen photographs of the ethereally beautiful British actress will follow her rise to fame as one of the greatest screen icons of Hollywood’s Golden Age, culminating in her philanthropic work in later life.

Born in Belgium to a Dutch Baroness and Anglo-Irish father, Hepburn moved to London from Amsterdam in late 1948 to take up a ballet scholarship at the Rambert Ballet School in Notting Hill. After a number of important stage performances as a chorus girl in the West End, Hepburn made her earliest film debuts in British films. Her critically acclaimed stage performance in Gigi (1951) made her name and throughout the 50s and 60s, her career flourished and she became the first actress to win an Academy Award, Golden Globe, and BAFTA Award for a single performance (her leading role in Roman Holiday, 1953).

Hepburn then worked as a Unicef ambassador from 1988 until her death in 1993. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1992 in recognition of her contribution to the arts and her humanitarian work.

Audrey Hepburn, 1955 © Norman Parkinson Ltd

Including portraits from the Hepburn family of Audrey practising ballet as a young woman, as well as photos taken by leading photographers of the twentieth century, such as Cecil Beaton, Irving Penn and Norman Parkinson, the exhibition will run until 18 October 2015. Also included will be vintage magazine spreads, from the Picturegoer in 1952 to the front cover of Life magazine, featuring Hepburn in Givenchy for her role in Breakfast at Tiffany’s in 1961, taken by Howell Conant.

Pim Baxter, Deputy Director, National Portrait Gallery, London, says: ‘Audrey Hepburn was one of the world’s most celebrated actresses, and I am delighted that the National Portrait Gallery will hold a major photography exhibition exploring the life and work of such a significant and much-loved figure who spent the formative early years of her career in Britain. It is particularly appropriate that the exhibition will be staged in such close proximity to where she performed as a young woman at the very start of her career.’

Audrey Hepburn by Cecil Beaton, 1960

AUDREY HEPBURN: PORTRAITS OF AN ICON, 2 July – 18 October 2015, National Portrait Gallery, London

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