David Farrell: Life Through The Lens

1 - 20 September 2014

Osborne Samuel are proud to present a major exhibition of photographs
from the estate of celebrated British photographer David Farrell
(1919-2013), internationally renowned for his iconic images of many of the
greatest musicians, actors, authors, dancers and artists of the 20th century.
The exhibition, which will be the first survey of Farrell’s work since his
death earlier last year, will showcase images of many of his most famous
sitters, from Louis Armstrong to Laurence Olivier, Margot Fonteyn and
the Rolling Stones.
Born in London, Farrell studied at Dulwich College and later trained at
the Royal Academy of Music. Following a period of active service with
the RAF during WW2, in 1946 he moved to Gloucestershire, where he
became a central figure in a circle of intellectuals and artists including
Lynn Chadwick, Jacob Bronowski and Peter Nichols.
Abandoning his ambitions to become a solo violinist due to growing
family responsibilities, Farrell turned to photography, securing a
significant commission from the British Council to photograph a series of
well-known artists including Henry Moore, Eduardo Paolozzi and
Barbara Hepworth. These portraits established his reputation and
attracted regular commissions for newspapers and magazines, and in 1955
he received his first music assignment to photograph Yehudi Menuhin and
Sir Thomas Beecham at the Bath Festival.
Over the next 30 years Farrell made numerous portraits of musicians and
performers in informal situations, preferring to photograph them at home
or in the studio rather than in public performance. His approach proved
popular with his sitters; Paul Scofield described him as the one
photographer “who never intruded”. John Gielgud, on seeing his portrait,
asked “David, where were you? I didn’t know you were there!’. Menuhin claimed
that Farrell created the visual equivalent of his own musical achievements.
Expanding his portfolio through commissions from London Weekend
Television and Thames TV, Farrell went on to photograph most of the
pop stars of the period, including early performances by the Beatles, Cilla
Black and Tom Jones. In the 1960s and 1970s he turned to theatre and
film with an invitation to photograph the production of Peter Hall’s A
Midsummer Night’s Dream (1968) starring Diana Rigg and Helen Mirren, and
over subsequent years he worked on more than 100 films and TV dramas
alongside directors including Michael Winner. and Ken Loach.
Upon his death aged 93, Farrell left an extensive archive of images which
together form a fascinating “hall of fame” of the 20th century’s bestknown
stars of stage, screen and soundtrack. Osborne Samuel are
delighted to be celebrating and commemorating his extraordinary legacy
with this important exhibition of highlights drawn from across his
remarkable five decade career.

Click here to view the Press Release

Back to Gallery Programme

David Farrell: Life Through The Lens


OSBORNE SAMUEL GALLERY is one of London’s leading galleries, long established in the heart of Mayfair. The gallery began as Berkeley Square Gallery and became Osborne Samuel when Peter Osborne and Gordon Samuel joined forces. The gallery specialises in Modern British Painting and Sculpture and has a high reputation for the quality of its exhibitions and publications. Expand...

Gallery Programme

Future events

News & Updates

Visit our news area