A Selling-Exhibition of Photographs of Vivien Leigh and her husband Laurence Olivier
Taken by her friend, the acclaimed British photographer Cecil Beaton

Proceeds To Benefit The Old Vic
Exhibition At Sotheby’s 34-35 New Bond Street
12-26 September 2017

To mark the 50th anniversary of the death of film and theatre icon Vivien Leigh, and to celebrate Sotheby’s auction of The Vivien Leigh Collection taking place on 26th September, Sotheby’s will present a selling exhibition of portraits of the Gone With The Wind star taken by her friend, the acclaimed British photographer and costume designer Cecil Beaton. In honour of Leigh’s enduring love for theatre, and connection with The Old Vic, proceeds from the sales of the photographs will go towards The Old Vic as the theatre itself heads for an important anniversary, turning 200 in May 2018.

Beaton and Leigh shared a longstanding professional and personal relationship; though Beaton had previously photographed Leigh for a fashion shoot in 1935, they first became friends in Edinburgh in 1941, when Leigh was starring in the George Bernard Shaw play, The Doctor’s Dilemma. Beaton photographed Leigh backstage, and after the show, the two went out for dinner, chatting until the early hours of the morning. Beaton later recalled, “The adulation of her beauty leaves her cold – she loves talking late into the night & here she found someone intrigued & stimulated to continue even until she was tired.” He continued to photograph her for many years, and designed costumes for her for starring roles too.

Including several unseen images of the Hollywood star, the exhibition will show Leigh at various stages in her career, and portray the breadth of roles that – in addition to Gone with the Wind (1939) – consolidated her stardom, both in film and in the theatre. Beaton photographed Vivien on a number of film sets, including Caesar and Cleopatra (1945) and Anna Karenina (1948) (for which Beaton also designed the costumes), of which images of both are featured in the exhibition.

Amidst the more staged and glamorous portraits captured on film and theatre sets, one can also catch a glimpse into the private life of Leigh and her great love and husband, legendary actor Laurence Olivier. The exhibition includes intimate photographs that Beaton took of the couple at the British Embassy in Paris, which acted as a hub where cultural luminaries of the day would convene.

All of the images come from Sotheby’s Cecil Beaton Studio Archive, a matchless repository of over 100,000 negatives, 9,000 vintage prints and 42 scrapbooks from the celebrated photographer’s personal collection.