Hoppé Portraits: Society, Studio and Street

The National Portrait Gallery is one of my favourite galleries in London, not only because it is free entry but it can be welcome relief from the chaotic madness around Trafalgar Square. When a friend on facebook recently posted some photos, this one immediately caught my eye - I can spot a button in 20 paces! 

© Andrew Fawcett-Wolf

The exhibition, Hoppé Portraits: Society, Studio & Street, is work by the Edwardian modernist photographer, Emil Otto Hoppé (1878-1972). Hoppé (pronounced 'Hop-pay') is considered to be one of the most important photographers of the first half of the twentieth century.

Cecil Beaton called Hoppé 'The Master' and wrote that "his photographs have managed to outlast fashion - one of the rare achievements of photographic history". Celebrated during his lifetime, much of Hoppé’s work has only recently been brought together and this exhibition will enable visitors to the gallery, to discover a forgotten master.

'The Pearlies', Master William Dennis Simmons, London 1922. 
© 2011 Curatorial Assistance,Inc./E.O.Hoppe Estate Collection.

Featuring 150 works, The exhibition includes Hoppé’s strikingly modernist portraits of society figures and important personalities from the worlds of literature, politics and the arts, including George Bernard Shaw, Margot Fonteyn, Albert Einstein, Vita Sackville-West and members of the royal family.

Hoppé’s fascinating photojournalist studies of everyday British people, which capture the realities of day-to-day life between the wars, range from street musicians & circus performers to bus drivers & postmen and of course, our little Pearly Prince, wearing the traditional suit decorated with mother-of-pearl buttons.

The NPG is also currently holding a photographic competition based on Hoppé’s Street Portraits. Be inspired by Hoppé’s portrayal of his era through street photography and you could see your images on display at the Gallery! To enter the competition, simply upload your images via the Hoppé Portraits Flickr group and tag them 'hoppe'. The deadline for submissions is Thursday 5 May 2011. For further info and terms & conditions, see this link - good luck!