Vivien Leigh @ National Portrait Gallery

100 years ago an icon was born. Vivien Hartley, later to be known by her stage name Vivien Leigh became a darling across Hollywood screens and is now being celebrated in a beautiful collection of photographs at the National Portrait Gallery.

Most famous for her role in Gone With the Wind, the exhibition includes photographs from the beginning to the end of the actress’s life. Many of the images are stunning black and white editions of Leigh’s undeniable beauty. However, there are many reproductions which have been coloured in, giving them a 21st century feel.

Leigh’s fame was global, and my mother, born in Beirut, was named after the British star. Leigh had won two academy awards and was a much celebrated actress. The photographs are a testament to a world of glamour which seems a little lost in our modern lives. Included are images of Leigh with husband Laurence Olivier; a former power couple. Within the pictures and newspaper and magazine cuttings on show, you really get a sense of how much of a celebrity Leigh was, and how much speculation and wonder surrounded her and Olivier.

Many images on display have previously been unseen, these photographs are now introducing a younger generation to a historic face and talent.

Starring Vivien Leigh: A Centenary Celebration is on display at National Portrait Gallery until 20 July 2014


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Lizzy Vartanian Collier is a London-based writer with a special interest in contemporary Middle Eastern Art. She has a BA in Art History and an MA in Contemporary Art and Art Theory of Asia and Africa from the School of Oriental and African Studies. She runs the Gallery Girl blog and has written for After Nyne, Arteviste, Canvas Magazine, Harper's Bazaar Arabia, Ibraaz, Jdeed Magazine, ReOrient and Suitcase Magazine. Lizzy is also curator of Arab Women Artists Now - AWAN 2018 (London).

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