High society and low life: celebrities and social types in the portrait photography of E.O. Hoppé

Brian Stokoe

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This paper examines the early photographic work of Emil Otto Hoppé (1878-1972) and analyses his importance as a society portraitist. In 1913 Hoppé established a studio at Millais House where he photographed major figures from the world of drama and dance, including Diaghilev's Ballet Russe. His celebrity portraits appeared regularly in The Tatler and The Sketch, and he also contributed numerous literary portraits to The Bookman, where his sitters included George Bernard Shaw, Henry James and Thomas Hardy. Later he inverted his social hierarchy to portray London's working classes, producing some important typological portraits. This essay considers the distinctive character of Hoppé's early work and demonstrates how he systematically created an exclusive form of celebrity portraiture; one clearly dissociated from its more everyday counterparts and from any connection with 'trade'.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-41
JournalVisual Culture in Britain
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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