Francis Bacon, painter, 1969
The Face of the Artist exhibition – 21 June to 4 December
Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts acquires and exhibits a major
collection of portraits by the photographer John Hedgecoe
The Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts at the University of East Anglia, Norwich, has acquired a major
collection of portraits by John Hedgecoe, one of the most significant photographers in the history of British
photography. An exhibition of works from this collection, The Face of the Artist: Photographs by John
Hedgecoe, will open on Tuesday 21 June and will run until Sunday 4 December. The exhibition will include
portraits of artists and writers, together with figures from fashion and the stage. A central focus of the
show will be photographs of artists such as Francis Bacon and Henry Moore, who feature in the Centre’s
collections, alongside their works. During the summer (21 June – 28 August), the exhibition will coincide
with a Manchester Art Gallery touring exhibition, A World Observed 1940 – 2010: Photographs by Dorothy
“My father photographed thousands of people from all walks of life. He travelled around the world visiting countless
extraordinary places. I know he would be very pleased to know his photographs will live on and be seen by other
generations of people. I'm sure they will inspire future photographers” – Sebastian Hedgecoe (son).
John Hedgecoe (1932 – 2010) was at the forefront of portrait photography for over 50 years. Perhaps best
known for his portraits of artists, he also took pictures of the leading figures in the worlds of literature, science
and politics from Agatha Christie to Winston Churchill, while his portrait of the Queen taken in 1966 still graces
British postage stamps.
The new exhibition at the Sainsbury Centre will feature John Hedgecoe’s photographs together with works
from the Centre’s permanent collections. They include Henry Moore with his Mother and Child, Anthony Green
with his painting My Mother Alone in her Dining Room, Lucie Rie with a selection of her ceramics, and Lynn
Chadwick and Elisabeth Frink alongside their sculptures. A portrait of Francis Bacon by Hedgecoe will sit
alongside Bacon’s Sketch for a Portrait of Lisa, 1955, from the Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Collection. The
Centre has an outstanding collection of early Francis Bacon paintings and Sir Robert Sainsbury considered
Sketch for a Portrait of Lisa to be “one of the most beautiful pictures Francis has ever painted”, stating that he
would have bought it even if he wasn’t related to Lisa.
Also on display this summer at the Centre will be portraits by John Hedgecoe of other well-known artists and
writers, as well as images of famous names from fashion and the stage. These will include Sir Cecil Beaton,
Sir Peter Blake, Malcom Bradbury, Sir Noël Coward, Dame Barbara Hepworth, David Hockney, Laurie Lee,
John Mortimer, Sir Andrew Motion and Mary Quant.
“The physical appearance of the artist, his or her features, mannerisms, eccentricities, and posture has long
fascinated us. John Hedgecoe, one of the great society photographers and educators of the last half century,
brilliantly photographed many of the greatest painters, sculptors, poets, and cultural thinkers of his age. This
exhibition presents these artistic faces, in celebration of a great photographer, and a great artistic age" – Dr
Paul Greenhalgh, Director, Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts.
John Hedgecoe’s unconventional and elegant style ranged from the formal, such as posed shots of artists with
their work in the studio, to close-ups revealing their various reactions to being photographed. In 1969 he
photographed Francis Bacon. The posed shots were taken at the RCA as Bacon had just accidently burnt
down his studio. More informal photographs of Lucie Rie were taken in her home in 1980. Hedgecoe recalled,
“She invited me to stay for tea, which she’d set out like a Mondrian painting: all the sandwiches were cut into
neat squares and triangles, with the plates arranged with precision, while a single tulip stood in one of her
pots. It all looked fantastic and I could hardly bring myself to eat it and spoil the effect”.
John Hedgecoe was friends with many of his subjects. He knew Henry Moore for over 40 years and
photographed him extensively in many settings and produced 4 books. Richard Calvocoressi has described
the books as “an exceptional range of incisive and insightful photographs. These are among the most
important visual records we have of Moore’s life and work”.
An internationally acclaimed photographer, educator and writer, John Hedgecoe studied photography at
Guildford School of Art. Following a period as an aerial photographer in the RAF, he joined Queen magazine
as staff photographer. In the mid-1960s he persuaded the Royal College of Art (RCA) to allow him to create a
department of photography and in 1975 he became the first Professor of Photography. He was powerful
creative force at the RCA, a dynamic personality, determined to place the study of photography on an equal
footing with other arts and to make the institution one of the most significant artistic institutions internationally.
His photographs have appeared in leading newspapers and magazine titles and can be found in major
collections around the world. Hedgecoe was also best-selling author of over 30 books on photography, selling
millions of copies world-wide during his lifetime. His ‘how to’ books provided the first educational building
blocks for amateurs and professionals alike.
“We are very pleased to give the Sainsbury Centre of Visual Art our father’s photographs as we know they will be
very well looked after and will be seen by a wide audience. Our father would have been very happy for them to be in
Norfolk as he lived there for over 20 years” - Dolly Carter (daughter).
The John Hedgecoe exhibition will coincide with A World Observed 1940 – 2010 (21 June – 28 August), the first
comprehensive retrospective of the work of London-based photographer Dorothy Bohm. The exhibition will bring
together over 150 images, tracing an exceptional career which spans 7 decades. Bohm’s visually striking
photographs focus on the human figure in its natural setting and document the rapidly changing world of the last 70
For further information or images please contact
Sal Goldsmith, Head of Communications, Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts
T 01603 592448 E firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to Editors
Dates, Times and Information
The Face of the Artist runs from Tuesday 21 June to Sunday 4 December 2011. The exhibition will be open Tuesday to Sunday,
10am to 5pm, closed Mondays including Bank Holiday Mondays T 01603 593199 www.scva.ac.uk
Admission (includes entry to the coinciding special exhibition) £4, concessions £2
Family admission (up to 2 adults and 3 children) £8, concessions £6
The Sainsbury Centre’s John Hedgecoe collection
The Sainsbury Centre gratefully acknowledges the generous gift of works by John Hedgecoe from his family
Sainsbury Centre Exhibition Marketing Sponsors
George Sexton Associates have provided the lighting and design for The Face of the Artist the Sainsbury Centre
The Centre is supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and The Gatsby Charitable Foundation