Dorothy Wilding

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Self-portrait (1930s)
British Wilding series stamps from a booklet pane.
An early portrait, Lady Angela Forbes, photographed by Wilding in 1921

Dorothy Frances Edith Wilding (10 January 1893 – 9 February 1976) was a noted English society photographer from Gloucester.

Early life[edit]

Wilding wanted to become an actress or artist, but these careers were not encouraged by her uncle, in whose family she lived, so she chose instead the art of photography, which she started to learn from the age of sixteen.[1]


By 1929 she had already moved studio a few times and in her Bond Street, London, studio she attracted theatrical stars and shot her first British Royal Family portrait of the 26-year-old Prince George (later Duke of Kent) in 1928. Six years later Wilding was selected to take the official engagement photographs of Prince George before his marriage to Princess Marina of Greece. In 1935 a sitting booked for a Mrs Simpson on a Friday found Wilding away from the studio. Instead her leading deputy camera operator Maryon Parham took photographs of Wallis Warfield Simpson, the future Duchess of Windsor, who was accompanied to the studio by Edward, Prince of Wales at a time when the relationship was not mentioned in the British press. A hand-coloured image from this session would later appear on the cover of Time magazine, marking Wallis as "Woman of the Year". A further important series of Royal Sittings were also taken when Wilding was based in America. This sitting was eventually followed by the famous Wilding portrait of the newly ascended Elizabeth II that was used for a series of definitive postage stamps of Great Britain used between 1952 and 1967, and a series of Canadian stamps in use from 1954 to 1962. A previous portrait sitting of Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, wife of George VI, had turned into a double portrait of the royal couple and was adapted for the 1937 Coronation issue stamp. That portrait led to her being the first woman awarded a Royal Warrant to be the official photographer to a King and Queen at their coronation. She opened a second photo studio in New York City in 1937.[2][3]

An autobiography In Pursuit of Perfection was published in 1958.[4]


Besides members of the Royal family, Dorothy Wilding photographed many famous people, including filmstars and celebrities of the 1920s and 1930s, amongst whom were: Noël Coward, Jessie Matthews, Diana Wynyard, Harriet Cohen, Cecil Beaton, George Bernard Shaw, Earl Mountbatten of Burma, Anna May Wong, Aldous Huxley, Dame Gladys Cooper, Tallulah Bankhead, Helen Wills Moody, Raymond Massey, Maurice Chevalier, Nancy Astor, Diana Wynyard, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Barbara Hutton. In her New York studio that she opened in 1937 she photographed Fannie Hurst, Gertrude Lawrence at the time of her appearance in Pygmalion. In the 1940s and 1950s her subjects included Dame Barbara Cartland, Ralph Hancock. Dame Daphne du Maurier, Sir John Gielgud, Sir Norman Hartnell, Harry Belafonte, Louis Jourdan, Yehudi Menuhin, William Somerset Maugham, Yul Brynner and Claire Bloom. [5][6]

She is also known for her pictorial style nude photographs which include the dancer Jacqes Cartier and the famous artist's model Rhoda Beasley photographed shortly before her early tragic death.[7][8][1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Stamp Designers". Archived from the original on 4 July 2008.
  2. ^ [1] National Portrait Gallery (retrieved 16 January 2007)
  3. ^ "Royal Collection - Dorothy Wilding".
  4. ^ "In pursuit of perfection, by dorothy wilding".
  5. ^ "DOROTHY WILDING (1893-1976)".
  6. ^ "Dorothy Wilding portraits". National Portrait Gallery. 2018. Retrieved 13 October 2018.
  7. ^ "NPG x13684; 'The Butterfly' - Portrait - National Portrait Gallery".
  8. ^ "Rhoda Beasley - La Petite Mélancolie".

External links[edit]