Scandal ’63 at The National Gallery

BATD ON Apr 30, 2013 AT 12:29 pm

A display that commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Profumo affair has opened up at the National Portrait Gallery.

The Profumo affair was a British political scandal that occurred in 1963. The affair included John Profumo, the Secretary of State for War, Valerie Hobson (his actress wife) and the model Christine Keeler, who he had the affair with. Christine Keeler was also romantically linked with the senior Russian naval attaché, Yevgeny Ivanov, which heightened the political paranoia that occurred during this time due to the Cold War.

The display features a number of famous pieces of art, photography, and press from the time of the scandal. A rare vintage print of Lewis Morley’s nude portrait of Christine Keeler is one of the highlights of the display, as well as a photograph of Pauline Boty with her famous, and now lost, pop art interpretation of the scandal.

Photograph of Pauline Boty holding a now lost piece of artwork about the Profumo affair. The photograph can be seen at the National Portrait Gallery display.

Also being featured are press photographs of the key players of the scandal, film advertisements from a banned film in Britain that addressed the affair, and cartoons and illustrations.

The affair led to major repercussions in British politics. It caused paranoia and distrust in the government, and eventually led to the end of Harold Macmillan’s position as the Conservative Prime Minister when he lost to Harold Wilson in the 1964 elections.

Clare Freestone, the Associate Curator of Photographs at the National Portrait Gallery said about the gallery:

“It has been a fascinating subject to research; a great deal of ephemera and original press material has been sourced, which really illustrates what a key role the media played in unravelling the scandal. Despite the events occurring fifty years ago, the stories connected to these fascinating images still seem so vivid today.”

‘Scandal ’63: The Fiftieth Anniversary of the Profumo Affair’ can be seen at the National Portrait Gallery in London from 30 April to 15 September. Admission is free. 


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