classic film general discussion photography vivien leigh

Everybody Else’s Girl

London’s National Portrait Gallery recently added some new Vivien Leigh photos to their online collection, which in itself always makes me really excited because they hide these things away and don’t display them for the public in the museum, so whenever they do put new ones up on the website, it’s like a discovery for me.

There are some beautiful sets of Vivien in the 1930s, but please allow me to flail over this particular one right now.  This set by Cyril Arapoff taken around 1936, is one of the most ethereal things I think I’ve ever seen.  I absolutely love the contrast of the lighting and shadows, and the fact that Vivien is not all dolled up.  Tricia commented on my personal blog yesterday that the expressions Vivien has in these photos are almost somber.  I have to agree. But look at how beautiful she is, and the contrast between the beauty of her face and her sweater, which is very plain in black and white (even though $10 says it was a bright color), is great.  Despite the grainy quality (or maybe because of it), these feel very modern to me, and this might be my new favorite set of Vivien.  They’re so different than most of the portraits we see of her.  Ah, variety!  The spice of life.

I liked these (and a few others) so much I ordered prints for my collection.  You can order them for yours as well on the NPG website

Kendra has been the weblady at since 2007. She lives in Yorkshire and is the author of Vivien Leigh: An Intimate Portrait, and co-author of Ava Gardner: A Life in Movies (Running Press). Follow her on Twitter @kendrajbean, Instagram at @vivandlarrygram, or at her official website.

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Comments (9)

  1. I completely agree that they look modern. I was looking through them and I think the one second from last looks particularly modern. These are such a great find! Thanks for posting them 🙂

    1. you’re welcome! i actually got the prints in the mail today (that was really fast), and they’re pretty good. I’ve gotten better ones from there but I like these

  2. Funnily enough I was in the NPG only last week and saw these new pic’c on their in-house computers.They are very exciting.Only thing is though,only certain prints are available for purchase,I guess this may be due to copyright?! When you find yourself in London next,make an appointment to view their achieve dept which you do for free,it contain’s all their collection of material on Vivien.I did this several years ago and am planning to do so again soon!

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