Terry O’Neill’s Most Iconic Photograph: Brigitte Bardot on the Set of ‘The Legend of Frenchie King’
16th October 2021
Known for his intimate images chronicling the fashions, styles, and celebrities of the Swinging Sixties, Terry O’Neill often caught his subjects in candid or unconventional settings. O’Neill captured this image of Brigitte Bardot while shooting on the set of the Western Comedy ‘The Legend of Frenchie King’, directed by Christian-Jaque in Spain 1971.
The shot, depicting a windswept Bardot with a cigar hanging loosely from her parted lips, is widely considered to be one of O’Neill’s most iconic photographs; and is part of the National Portrait Gallery’s permanent collection in London. A result of the last frame O’Neill had left on set, the image’s composition and scene culminated in a spontaneous moment of energy. Of the photograph, O’Neill is quoted saying ‘I noticed that when the wind gusted there was the potential for a great picture. When the time came, I only had one frame left – one shot at it. But suddenly the wind swept her hair across her face, and it was a knock-out.’
Throughout his career, O’Neill has racked up a portfolio of over 70 images of Bardot. Photographs of the French actor include her grinning in the arms of Sean Connery in Deauville before the filming of ‘Shalako’, and her standing in a bathroom doorway on the set of ‘The Novices’ directed by Guy Casaril in France. However, it is the close-up shot of Bardot that remains ingrained in the public’s memory. Bardot’s strands of hair partially obscuring her eyes; paired with the monochrome palette emphasising the tones and shadows of her delicate face propel her portrait into a quintessential O’Neill image.
The ArtistBeginning his career at the start of the 1960’s, Terry O’Neill focused his lens on youth culture, film, music and fashion, capturing the frontline of fame for over six decades. Photographing icons such as The Beatles, David Bowie, Elton John, Twiggy and The Rolling Stones, O’Neill quickly developed a reputation as the defining photographer of the ‘Swinging Sixties’. Continuing to work closely with stars throughout the following decades, O’Neill’s photographs became popular covers of international magazines and newspapers such as Vogue, Vanity Fair, and The Sunday Times.Artist Page
Frank Sinatra with his Stand-In and Bodyguards Arriving on Location, Miami Beach, 1968
Mick Jagger waits in his Dressing Room Before an Appearance on ‘Ready Steady Go!’, London, 1964