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Patrick Lichfield: capturing characterPatrick Lichfield: capturing character

Grace Coddington with Dachshund, Buckinghamshire, 18th March 1964

Joanna Lumley, Swimwear Fashion Shoot, London, 25th August 1965

Tracy Reed, Knightsbridge, London, 5th July 1971

Olivia Newton-John, London, 16th August 1973


Monica Waldron attends the first major selling exhibition of the Fifth Earl of Lichfield’s work and comes away impressed
photographed by Patrick Lichfield



I ARRIVED at the Chris Beetles Gallery and was promptly buzzed in. I was led past horizontal stacking and vertical propping of paintings.

There, in a well-lit, hessian-walled space were 52 of some of the late Patrick Lichfield’s greatest photographs.

For a man that began his 40-year photography career as an amateur, the calibre of the photographs before me showed how he deserved the credit of an icon. Through much of the 1960s and 1970s, the work of Lichfield—more accurately the Earl of Lichfield, DL, FBIPP, FRPS—defined fashion photography.

Lichfield had a natural ability to capture the mannerisms and true characteristics of his subjects, which ranged from 1960s’ glitterati, to film stars and members of the Royal Family. The son of Viscount Anson and Princess Anne of Denmark, and cousin to HM Queen Elizabeth II, Patrick Lichfield had a VIP ticket backstage. This privilege, according to Lichfield, ‘closed as many doors as it opened,’ and consequently earned him the title of ‘The Royal Photographer’.

The style of Lichfield is difficult to define, as his photographs are varied. Some express an almost dark and dramatic mood, with long cast shadows, yet other portraits, such as those of best friend Joanna Lumley, exhibit characteristics typical of the 1970s with a dream-like, misty quality, photographed in a stark white studio.

A number of photographs featured were those from Lichfield’s time spent working at Vogue, such as the beautifully composed Grace Coddington with Daschund (1964). (Lichfield was one of only five British photographers to be retained by the magazine; Bailey, Beaton, Parkinson and Snowdon were the other four.)

Personal favourites were the wonderfully symmetrical image of Tracy Reed (1971), in which she is composed as the central figure in a room perfectly framed by an arched ceiling. The delightful The Hon Jock Scott (1965) conveys a young Jock who sits cross-legged with natural poise yet with an underlying mischief.

The Hon Jock Scott,
7th December 1965

Evidently, Patrick Lichfield was a photographer of diversity and great talent. He had an innate ability to connect with his sitters, which has resulted in images that capture the true character of all whom faced his lens.

Lichfield died on Remembrance Day in 2005 of a stroke, but his work is very well chronicled. The exhibition featured some previously unseen work.
   Although the exhibition, the first major selling one featuring Lichfield’s work, finished last month the Chris Beetles Gallery still has prints for sale, as well as a luscious 73 pp. catalogue at £10. For more information, visit •


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The privilege of being the Queen’s first cousin, according to Lichfield, ‘closed as many doors as it opened,’ and consequently earned him the title of ‘The Royal Photographer’



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