Tilly Losch by E.O. Hoppé, 1928 © 2011 Curatorial Assistance, Inc./E.O. Hoppé Estate Collection

Hoppé Portaits. Society, Studio & Street
17 February – 30 May 2011

Wolfson Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, St Martin’s Place, London, WC2H 0HE
Open daily: 10:00-18:00. Thursday-Friday until 21:00
Entrance: £11 (Concessions £10/£9, free for gallery supporters)
To book advance tickets call 0844 248 5033 (transaction fee applies) or online.

“Some of his studies of famous people are like national portraits: they will go down to all time.”
Oldham Chronicle

This exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery will display over 150 photos taken by E.O. Hoppé, many of which have never previously been exhibited. The show brings together E.O. Hoppé’s society, studio and street photographs for the first time.

E.O. Hoppé was one of the origingal celebrity photographers enjoying success in the 1910s and 1920s comparable with greats such as Richard Avedon and Irving Penn in the late twentieth century. By 1913 his third photographic studio occupied a 33-room Kensington House and was a magnet for the rich and famous.
The first section of the exhibition features over 80 portraits of celebrities taken in this period, including Margo Fonteyn, George Bernard Shaw, H.M. King George V, Vaslac Nijinksky, Ezra Pound, David Lloyd George, and Benito Mussolini.

In 1922, Hoppé published the Book of Fair Women, a compilation of photographs of the women he considered to be the most beautiful on earth. Notable for its multicultural approach, the photos included 32 representative beauties from 24 different countries, from which a selection will be on display at the exhibition. During the 20s and 30s, Hoppé left the studio to take photographs of British street life, capturing those at the other end of the social spectrum to his celebrity sitters. These pictures, sometimes taken with a hidden camera, explored ides of class. More than 50 of the photos will be on display at the exhibition and include portraits of bell ringers, the homeless, a dog hospital, night watchmen, a girl’s borstal institute, a skeleton shop, portraits of pearlies, street musicians and the tattoo artist George Burchett.

E.O. Hoppé was born in Munich in 1878 and was persuaded to follow a career in banking. During a stay in London he met with the photographer J.C. Warburg and decided to purchase his first camera, shortly afterwards being elected a member of the Royal Photographic Society before being awarded a Fellowship by the society in 1907. His work was widely published during his lifetime, and in 1937 he used his archive of photographs to form the Dorien Leigh photographic agency. The exhibition is curated Phillip Prodger, Curator of Photography at the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem.

And if you can’t make it to the exhibition, here are a couple of great collectors’ books.