Never-Before-Seen Paul McCartney Photos from the Height of Beatlemania Will Reopen London’s National Portrait Gallery


Following a three-year closure for renovation, London’s National Portrait Gallery will Get Back this summer—and it’s debuting a series of never-before-seen Paul McCartney photos to mark the occasion. 

The museum reopens on June 22 with the exhibition “Paul McCartney Photographs 1963-64: Eyes of the Storm.” The show will bring together a series of portraits shot by McCartney on a 35mm camera in London, Liverpool, Miami, New York, Paris, and Washington, D.C. during the early, mop-top days of his band’s rise to global stardom.

The event “will provide a uniquely personal perspective on what it was like to be a Beatle at the start of Beatlemania,” NPG director Nicholas Cullinan told the Guardian. “At a time when so many camera lenses were on the band, these photographs will share fresh insight into their experiences, all through the eyes of Sir Paul McCartney.”

Long thought lost, the photos were recently rediscovered by the Let It Be songwriter, and in 2020, he approached the NPG about the possibility of a show. 

“He said he’d found these photographs that he remembers taking but thought had been lost,” Cullinan recalled. “We sat down with him and began going through them. [It was] extraordinary to see these images—which are unseen—of such a well-documented, famous, and important cultural moment.”

Paul McCartney, Self-portraits in a mirror. Paris (1964). © Paul McCartney.

A monograph of the nearly 1,000 photos shot by McCartney will be published alongside the show in June. Both the book and tickets for the exhibition are available for pre-order now. 

The same year McCartney contacted the NPG, the museum closed its doors for a £35.5 million ($45 million) renovation project. Popular portraits were sent out on loans and tours as the institution overhauled its galleries and redesigned its entrance.

Now, as it prepares to open again, the museum is promoting several high-profile shows to lure visitors back. In addition to “Eyes of the Storm,” the NPG will open an exhibition of works by Yevonde, a 20th-century British photographer who pioneered the use of color in portraiture. Then, in November, the institution will re-present “David Hockney: Drawing from Life,” which opened for just 20 days in 2020 before increasing Covid-19 cases caused the gallery to close. 

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