‘This photograph was taken as a personal commission for Leigh who gave a copy to her mother. It was taken in my Collins Street studio and is a good example of the effects that can be achieved through the use of various lights — in this case, glow lighting with a boom on the hair and a background halo. It is a combination of lights that I still enjoy using today.’ (Shmith)
Born Vivien Mary Hartley in India, Vivien Leigh won Academy Awards for her roles as Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind (1939) and Blanche du Bois in A Streetcar Named Desire (1951). From 1935 she had a successful career on stage, frequently opposite Laurence Olivier, to whom she was married from 1940 to 1961. At the time of this portrait Vivien Leigh was at the height of her career and was touring Australia and New Zealand with Olivier and the Old Vic Theatre Company.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010