John Hedgecoe: Artists off their guard

Hockney making faces, Henry Moore in his daughter's wig – some intriguing photos of Britain's art titans have just been discovered in an Essex barn

Hundreds of portraits of famous artists including Francis Bacon and Henry Moore, recently rediscovered in a barn, are on display in The Face of the Artist: Photographs by John Hedgecoe at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts in Norwich.

Hedgecoe died in 2010, but the pictures, all signed and dated, were found in boxes belonging to a friend of the family in Essex. Hedgecoe had boxed up much of the collection while living at Oxnead Hall in Norfolk. After he ferreted them away – some he sold and others he gave away – nobody knew what was left.

"There were some real discoveries when we unpacked the boxes," says the show's curator Calvin Winner. "A group of photos of Moore show a humorous and frivolous side to the sculptor that you don't usually see with a highly regarded artist. In one image Moore in Forte del Marmi, Italy, is wearing his daughter Mary's wig and in another he is reclining in a deck chair, in a holiday mood reminiscent of a Martin Parr photograph. It's rare to see artists let their hair down but there was real trust between him and the photographer."

The photographs reveal the artists in their studios or catch them just at the moment they realise they are being photographed; often Hedgecoe focused heavily on their hands, and he kept notes about his sessions in his diaries.

Bacon, pictured in 1969, is shown just after he had just accidentally burnt down his own studio and was working from a studio at the Royal College of Art, where these photos were taken. Moore has his hands outstretched, displaying how enlarged they had become through toil with chisels and hammers.

Barbara Hepworth is wearing a red headscarf and an oversized black fur coat in 1970, probably at her studio in St Ives. Lynn Chadwick is standing outside with his famous angular sculpture Couple on a Seat in the background. Peter Blake looks pensive in front of his easel, while David Hockney, in black thick-rimmed glasses, turns down the corners of his mouth for the camera. Potter Lucie Rie is shown sitting on a table in her home in 1980.

Other photographs in the exhibition include a gruff-looking Eduardo Paolozzi in his ramshackle studio in 1989; Alexander Calder popping his head through a white sheet in 1968; and Marc Chagall at home with some of his artworks in 1958.

Heaps of other photographs of literary figures including Daphne du Maurier, William Golding, JB Priestly, Agatha Christie, Harold Pinter and Ted Hughes, and the composer Benjamin Britten, among many others are being saved for future exhibitions.

The John Hedgecoe estate contacted the Sainsbury Centre last year saying that the family wanted to keep the collection together and, because of Hedgecoe's connection with Norfolk, find a home for the works nearby. A central focus of this show will be photographs of Bacon and Moore, alongside their works from the Centre's permanent collections.

John Hedgecoe, who was born in 1931, was one of the leading British portrait photographers of the 20th century, and focused much of his work on artists and writers. He joined Queen magazine as staff photographer after he left the Guildford school of Art in 1957. By the mid-1960s he was taking portraits of eminent people for freelance commissions published in newspapers and magazines. He was also responsible for the 1966 photograph of the Queen which is still used on postage stamps.

In 1965, he established the photography department at the Royal College of Art, where he became Professor of Photography from 1975. He said: "A good portrait photograph should try to tell us something about the subject's character, for the portrait is a visual biography in a sense."

Hedgecoe knew Moore for almost 40 years, through his first wife, Julia Mardon, whom he married in 1960. Hedgecoe's many photographs of the sculptor resulted in a 30-year collaboration and several books, including the landmark Henry Spencer Moore, published in 1968.

Hedgecoe's son Sebastian recalls Italian holidays with Moore in Forte dei Marmi, a place Moore sourced stone for his sculptures, which were more photo shoots than conventional family holidays. "We went on family holidays with dad and mum and my sister Dolly and brother Auberon for many years with Henry, who taught me to swim. I remember long lunches at his house and at restaurants on the seafront. We played table tennis in his garden. He was such an easy person to talk to, even as a child. Endlessly dad was taking pictures of Henry, who was there to source the marble, but we never went into the quarries. Dad would go with him up into the mountains. Whether it was breakfast lunch or supper dad was always taking photographs."

Hedgecoe also wrote photography manuals and a novel, Breakfast with Dolly (1996). He was working on a second novel just before he died.

According to Dr Paul Greenhalgh, director of the Sainsbury Centre: "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."

The Face of the Artist: Photographs by John Hedgecoe, Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, Norwich (01603 593 199)to 4 December

The Faces of the Artist

Dame Barbara Hepworth, sculptor, 1970

"Dame Barbara, here wearing her familiar fur coat, asked me if I could do a book of her work, like the one I had done on Henry Moore. She was lively and full of enthusiasm, yet I had the feeling she was lonely. We talked a lot about Henry, because they were old friends. Henry had told me he'd been a 'bit sweet on her', as he put it and I think that perhaps they were sweet on each other for a while."

Lucie Rie, potter, 1980

"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".

Francis Bacon, painter, 1969

"Francis Bacon was moody, and to really get on with him you had to enjoy his lifestyle, spending afternoons drinking and exchanging abuse with Muriel Belcher, owner of the Colony Room club in Soho. He loved drinking champagne and was incredibly generous. I often used to see him waiting in the queue for the bus to South Kensington, where he lived, and he was a frequent visitor to the Senior Common Room at the Royal College of Art. When I photographed him he'd just accidentally burnt down his studio, so Robin Darwin, rector of the RCA, let him have a studio in the college."

David Hockney, painter, 1972

"[This picture was] taken on an assignment for Flair magazine, in his studio in Bayswater. He was extremely cooperative and friendly and was certainly striking in his appearance at the time – the big library spectacles, the striped shirt and the brilliant corn-yellow hair. I remember he told me he dyed it with Lady Clairol bleach."

Henry Moore, sculptor, 1953-60

"I knew Henry Moore for nearly 40 years and saw him most weekends. I've produced four books about Henry and his work. He was a wonderful man, with sparkling blue eyes and still very much a Yorkshire man, although he lived in Hertfordshire. When he sold a large piece of sculpture to someone, he'd also make them a gift of one of his drawings. However, after we'd done a book together, he gave them a copy of the book instead. It saved him, he said, quite a lot of money."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

Arts and Entertainment
Peter Capaldi and Chris Addison star in political comedy The Thick of IT

Arts and Entertainment
Judy Murray said she

Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.

Arts and Entertainment
Seoul singer G-Dragon could lead the invasion as South Korea has its sights set on Western markets
Arts and Entertainment
Gary Lineker at the UK Premiere of 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire'
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Bale as Batman in a scene from
Arts and Entertainment
Johhny Cash in 1969
musicDyess Colony, where singer grew up in Depression-era Arkansas, opens to the public
Arts and Entertainment
Army dreamers: Randy Couture, Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren and Jason Statham
Arts and Entertainment
The Great British Bake Off 2014 contestants
tvReview: It's not going to set the comedy world alight but it's a gentle evening watch
Arts and Entertainment
Umar Ahmed and Kiran Sonia Sawar in ‘My Name Is...’
Arts and Entertainment
This year's Big Brother champion Helen Wood
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Full company in Ustinov's Studio's Bad Jews
Arts and Entertainment
Harari Guido photographed Kate Bush over the course of 11 years
Arts and Entertainment
Reviews have not been good for Jonathan Liebesman’s take on the much loved eighties cartoon

A The film has amassed an estimated $28.7 million in its opening weekend

Arts and Entertainment
Untwitterably yours: Singer Morrissey has said he doesn't have a twitter account

A statement was published on his fansite, True To You, following release of new album

Arts and Entertainment
Full throttle: Philip Seymour Hoffman and John Turturro in God's Pocket
Arts and Entertainment
Kylie Minogue is expected to return to Neighbours for thirtieth anniversary special
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
    Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

    Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

    Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
    Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

    'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
    Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

    Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

    After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
    Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

    Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

    After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
    7 best quadcopters and drones

    Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

    From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
    Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

    A descent into madness in America's heartlands

    David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
    BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

    BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

    Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
    Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

    Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

    Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
    Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

    Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

    But could his predictions of war do the same?
    Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

    'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

    Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
    Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

    Young at hort

    Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
    Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

    Beyond a joke

    Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?