Jean Shrimpton

Pencil Portrait by Antonio Bosano.

Jean Shrimpton Pencil Portrait
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The quality of the prints are at a much higher level compared to the image shown on the left.


A3 Pencil Print-Price £45.00-Purchase

A4 Pencil Print-Price £30.00-Purchase

*Limited edition run of 250 prints only*

All Pencil Prints are printed on the finest Bockingford Somerset Velvet 255 gsm paper.

P&P is not included in the above prices.


Last Update : 28/5/17

Jean Shrimpton was the world’s first supermodel and one of the defining faces of the 60s, but gave it all up and became a recluse. Well that’s the popular myth, yet the truth probably lies elsewhere.

In a world where millions seek their fifteen minutes of fame, Shrimpton was shrewd enough to appreciate the ephemeral environment in which she thrived, and opted out before she endured any lasting damage. “Fashion is full of dark, troubled people,” she says today. “It’s a high-pressured environment that takes its toll and burns people out. Only the shrewd survive – Andy Warhol, for example, and David Bailey.”

Armed with just a camera and an old teddy-bear, David Bailey and 19-year-old Jean Shrimpton left for New York. Against the cold cityscape the photographer shot his model, and lover, for a Vogue spread entitled ‘Young Idea Goes West’. They almost didn’t make it; just before their flight from Heathrow, Bailey had to drag Shrimpton aboard. “Come on Jean” he said, “it’s like a 29 bus with wings.”

But they did get there and spent a week capturing the eruption of the city’s so-called youth-quake. Draped upon the urban Manhattan underbelly and clutching her teddy-bear, Jean Shrimpton blended demure fashion into gritty street photography. This photo-shoot redefined fashion editorials. Shrimpton and Bailey arrived there as unknowns, but when the spread was published in April 1962, their partnership conceived swinging London and gave birth to a youth culture.

This was the world’s first real look at Jean Shrimpton. She appeared child-like in the photos but when you caught her face it was entrancing; your eyes couldn’t leave it. Her beauty was timeless even then. A gamine silhouette and willowy limbs made her seem ethereal and move weightlessly. Then there were the doe-eyes, arched eyebrows and alluring pout underneath a fringe that framed her delicate face.

During the Melbourne cup in 1965, Shrimpton attended the Victoria Derby Race wearing a white Colin Rolfe shift dress, and nothing else. The hemline skimmed her thigh and billowed ever so slightly on her waifish frame. In that instant, she became a fashion icon, adopting an emblematic style that is easily accessible and still coveted today.

For those who missed it first time around, Jean’s influence was revived for modern interpretation when the BBC4 drama, We’ll Take Manhattan, was released on January 26. Karen Gillan played the supermodel, exploring that notorious week in New York when she and David Bailey first began their four year love affair.

Wearing a long beige suede coat, oversized sunglasses and a floral head-scarf, to recreate the classic shots, the actress looked beautiful – an embodiment of the era whilst lacking Shrimpton\‘s ease.

Jean always claimed that she never liked being photographed; she was just good at it. “She was magic,” said David Bailey. “In a way she was the cheapest model in the world – you only needed to shoot half a roll of film and then you had it.”

As the historian Dominic Sandbrook puts it, in his best selling volume “White Heat – A History of Britain in the Swinging Sixties (1964-70)”, her background was ‘almost disappointingly conventional.’ For such a luminescent star, it appeared vaguely improbable, yet her father was a prosperous businessman in the building trade, and she would grow up on the fringes of the Buckinghamshire county set. A striking, coltish brunette, she had originally planned to become a secretary before eventually becoming enrolled at the Lucie Clayton modelling school.

When I see images of Shrimpton in her hey day, I am reminded of the irrefutable fact that even the most beautiful of people have imperfections that can trouble, even torment them. Afflicted with noticeable eye bags even in her early twenties, she was only able to temporarily remove them with iron shots, a fact she would recount with commendable candour in her autobiography. My portrait hints at this imperfection in her genetic makeup.

Bags are usually genetically inherited and become more prominent as one gets older. Dr Richard Motley, a consultant dermatologist at University Hospital Wales, Cardiff, and spokesman for the British Association of Dermatologists, says:‘The eyes are like balls, supported by soft pads of fat and muscle in the skull. As the muscles get weaker, they bulge out, creating a bag effect.’ Partying too hard will create a similar look caused by fluid retention. ‘If you are tired, your facial muscles aren\‘t as animated, and this allows fluid to collect in the eye socket,’ Dr Motley says.

Shrimpton has now escaped fame to live the isolated life she longed for. When told about ‘We’ll Take Manhattan’, she bluntly responded “It’s of no bother.” Searching for images of her, you get trapped in the 1960s. All of the pictures capture a young pouting girl, round-eyed and hypnotising. Jean Shrimpton, the model, never left that era. And she won’t be photographed again.

Jean shrimpton on the US TV show “What’s my Line”

Recommended viewing

We'll take Manhattan (BBC Tv) 2012

“We’ll Take Manhattan” begins with a shot of that iconic aircraft – the Vickers VC10. God, I loved that plane, spending many a happy hour at Heathrow in the 60’s watching it landing and taking off. It was sleek, sophisticated and pleasingly quiet enough inside the fuselage to make it a flying experience to savour. Its engines were also further from the runway surface than on an underwing design with low pressure tyres, important factors in operations from rough runways such as those common in Africa. The VC10 was capable of landing and taking off at slower speeds than its rival – the Boeing 707 – and its engines could produce considerably more thrust, providing good ‘hot and high’ performance, making it a generally safer aircraft. Outside noise levels and the running costs of the plane – alarmingly magnified by the oil crisis of 1973 – would hasten its commercial decline. A sad end, yet it remains a beautiful design and one fondly remembered by all those who flew in it.

Bailey and Shrimpton ascend the steps of the VC10 for the trip to New York, little realising that the VC10 holds the sub-sonic record for crossing the Atlantic. What unfolds thereafter is a British television film that tells the story of the extramarital affair between photographer David Bailey and model Jean Shrimpton, and their one-week photographic assignment in New York City for Vogue magazine in 1962. It stars Aneurin Barnard as David Bailey, and Karen Gillan as Jean Shrimpton.