Photos of golden age stars for auction
A collection of work by a celebrated photographer - a virtual who’s who of mid 20th Century celebrity history - is to go under the hammer in Bury St Edmunds.
The portfolio by Angus McBean spans a range of screen legends including Marlene Dietrich and Richard Burton as well as musical giants such as The Beatles and Shirley Bassey.
They will be auctioned by Lacy Scott and Knight along with a prized visitor book from the society and theatre photographer’s London studio featuring more than 1,000 signatures of his star clientele from the 1940s onwards.
Ed Crichton, fine art manager at Lacy Scott, said: “It’s incredibly unique and a fascinating sale. There won’t be another collection like this in the world.
“All of the society magazines, when they interviewed a star, they would put them in a taxi and send them to McBean’s studio to be photographed.
“He got everyone who came to the studio to sign the visitors book. The book is a beautiful leather bound volume with his name inscribed on the front.”
Notable signatures include those by The Beatles with Sir Paul McCartney signing off ‘a Beatle!’ followed by John Lennon ‘another Beatle’, George Harrison ‘likewise’ and Ringo Starr ‘same again?’.
For 25 years, McBean captured shots of all the British theatre stars including John Gielgud, Peggy Ashcroft and Laurence Olivier. By the late 1940s, he was the official photographer for several major theatres such as the Royal Opera House and the Old Vic.
In the early 1960s he took photos for EMI shooting record covers for artists such as Cliff Richard and the Shadows, Shirley Bassey and the Beatles album Please, Please Me. A pioneer, he embraced the art of surrealism into his craft.
Mr Crichton said: “He was to photographs rather like Salvador Dali was to the art world. He was incredibly well known. Lord Snowdon, Cecil Beaton and Angus McBean were the three great photographers of the period.”
McBean semi retired to Suffolk and ran an antique business in Debenham and died on the night of his 86th birthday in 1990. His last few pictures were taken in 1988 and included Vivian Westwood and Jean Paul Gaultier.
His partner and studio assistant David Ball is auctioining the collection as he is emigrating to Morocco.
The sale is due to be held on April 12 and will be broken down in to 200 to 300 lots.
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