London’s National Portrait Gallery is currently celebrating the extraordinary beauty of Audrey Hepburn with a small show of some of her most famous portraits by photographers like Cecil Beaton, Terry O’Neill, Norman Parkinson and Irving Penn. The images are gorgeous and very familiar but even so, I think my preference remains for the more informal pictures taken of Hepburn.
I recently found a wonderful book, Audrey in Rome, edited by her son, Luca Dotti and Ludovica Damiani. It covers her time spent in the city from her early years filming for Roman Holiday and War and Peace to her time living there from 1969 onwards after her marriage to Andrea Dotti. It is the photographs taken of her by the paparazzi during the 1970s that I really love.
Even in every day life, walking her dog or shopping, her style appears as innate as her beautiful posture and self-possession. I find this much more inspiring than a staged studio shot. I also think that she became significantly more beautiful as her face assumed the contours of age. Her incredible beauty comes through in these photographs because they show the real woman not the icon.
You can catch the National Portrait Gallery show before 18 October, or better still, get the book.
(photographs from Reporters Associati, published in Audrey in Rome, ed Ludovica Damiani, Luca Dotti; Harper Collins 2013)