Last Updated July 13, 2018

Norman Parkinson

British (Born 1913 - Died 1990 ) PREMIUM LISTING
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Fashion
Influence: Historically influential or important






DESCRIPTION / BIOGRAPHY
Over the half-century he was taking photographs, Norman Parkinson produced some of the most memorable fashion images and portraits of our time. The British photographer, who died in 1990 aged 76, was one of Vogue’s star contributors, and enjoyed a relationship with the magazine that lasted four decades. Celia Hammond, Jerry Hall and Grace Coddington were among the models his images helped to propel to stardom.

Born Ronald William Parkinson Smith in 1913, the middle son of a barrister, Parkinson learnt his trade at the studios of Speaight and Sons, court photographers of New Bond Street. In 1934, aged 21, he opened his own studio at 1 Dover Street, Piccadilly, with another ex-employee of Speaight, Norman Kibblewhite. The pair combined their names to call the enterprise the Norman Parkinson Studio.

Having been weaned on Speaight and Sons’ staid portraiture, Parkinson went rather wild, luring debutantes to his studio with promises of a ride in his four-seater tourer. However, the partnership didn’t last more than a few months and, when Kibblewhite upped sticks, Parks carried on by himself, adopting the business name as his own.

In this halcyon post-war period, Parkinson’s images neatly captured the idea of the sporty, open-minded girl. Parkinson worked for a wide range of publications, notably Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Town & Country and other international magazines, which brought him worldwide recognition. He reinvented himself and fashion photography throughout his career, from his ground-breaking, spontaneous images of the 1930s, through the war years and the Swinging Sixties to the exotic locations of the 1970s and 1980s. By the end of his life he had become a household name

His personal life merged with his professional obligations when he married his third wife, actress Wenda Rogerson, in 1947 and she became his muse, featuring in many of his images for Vogue – draped over the bonnet of a Rolls-Royce, even riding an ostrich.

In later life his eccentricities included a large white last-days-of-the-Empire moustache and Victorian smoking cap, made all the more striking by the fact he was 6ft 5in.

When royal photographer, Cecil Beaton, died in 1980, Parkinson took over. Notable portraits included Princess Anne in 1971 and Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother in 1980.

Parkinson died in 1990 while on assignment in Singapore for Town & Country magazine following a cerebral haemorrhage.

In December 1967 Parkinson featured in the BBC documentary 'One Pair of Eyes'.

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