Mandela to McCartney: Exploring the photographs of Michael Peto

Today the National Portrait Gallery announced news of the first museum display of portraits by photojournalist Michael Peto. Michael Peto Photographs: Mandela to McCartney will be held at the Gallery from 17 September 2013.

I have been quietly working on the project for many months alongside curator Terence Pepper and colleagues at the University of Dundee, researching the largely unexplored Peto Collection of some 130,000 negatives and prints, donated to the University by the photographers family, following his death in 1970.

Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor web small

Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton by Michael Peto, 1963 © University of Dundee The Peto Collection

The ten photographs by Michael Peto (1908-1970) taken in London during the 1950s and 1960s to go on display will include the photograph shown above of Elizabeth Taylor with Richard Burton during the recording of the acclaimed BBC radio production of Dylan Thomas’s Under Milk Wood in October 1963.

Celebrated subjects in the display will also include Samuel Beckett photographed in his Paris apartment in 1961, Nelson Mandela photographed during his brief visit to London in June 1962, Jennie Lee photographed near the Houses of Parliament in 1965, and Paul McCartney with The Beatles during the making of the Richard Lester directed film Help! (1965).

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