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Sir Paul McCartney donates photographs taken by late wife Linda to V&A

A selection of work will go on display at the V&A from October.


A photo of The Beatles donated by Sir Paul McCartney (Linda McCartney/VandA)

A photo of The Beatles donated by Sir Paul McCartney (Linda McCartney/VandA)

A photo of The Beatles donated by Sir Paul McCartney (Linda McCartney/VandA)

Sir Paul McCartney has made a “major gift” of more than 60 photographs taken by his late wife Linda to the Victoria & Albert museum (V&A).

The images feature music stars and “tender family” moments.

A selection of the 63 photographs will go on display at the V&A’s new Photography Centre, which opens in October.

The Beatles, Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix are pictured, as well as flora and fauna, and intimate personal portraits of the McCartney family on holiday.

Linda became a professional photographer in the mid-1960s

The V&A’s senior curator of photographs, Martin Barnes, said Sir Paul wanted to make some of his first wife’s pictures “more accessible to the public”.

“Placing them in a freely accessible collection like the V&A enables that to happen and allows the work of Linda McCartney to be seen within a much broader context, of a wide history of photography, rather than isolated in that kind of story of rock and pop and the McCartney story,” he said.

He said: “When you look at a whole range of photographs she keeps experimenting with different styles, different camera types, different printing types. She’s very interested in unguarded moments and intimate moments, unstaged moments, with her family.

“But she brings that approach to the world of celebrity and rock and pop as well…

“She had a real eye for a moment. She stepped back a little bit more from the staging. She was able to capture things that felt more honest and more real.”

Asked whether she had been underrated because of her fame as Sir Paul’s wife, he said it is “quite hard to look at the pictures without the name in mind” but that while going through the archive he attempted to “look at the pictures as the work of a photographer, almost not knowing who that person is”.

He praised the “incredibly generous gift” from the ex-Beatle and his family.

Linda, who was born in New York, was voted US Female Photographer of the Year in 1967 and was the first female photographer to have her work featured on the cover of Rolling Stone a year later.

She died in 1998, from cancer, aged just 56.

The Photography Centre will also feature the world’s first photographic experiments, pictures by 20th century greats Alfred Stieglitz and Edward Steichen and newly commissioned works by Thomas Ruff.