Linda McCartney’s photos museum bound

At the press launch of “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” in May 1967.

Sir Paul McCartney has donated 63 photographs by his late wife Linda McCartney to the Victoria & Albert Museum (popularly known as the V&A) in London. The collection includes portraits of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix, as well as McCartney family snaps.

Some of Linda’s original Polaroids will be shown to the public for the first time.

The images by the former US female photographer of the year 1968 will go on display in the V&A’s new Photography Centre when it opens on 12 October.

Martin Barnes, senior curator of photographs at the V&A, said: “Linda McCartney was a talented eye-witness of pop culture and explored many creative approaches to artistic photography. Her camera also captured tender moments with her family. Our greatest thanks go to Sir Paul McCartney and his family for this incredibly generous gift.”

Linda McCartney (nee Eastman) was born in New York in 1941. She took a photo course with Hazel Archer and studied art history at the University of Arizona before settling in New York City, where she began her photo career shooting rock portraits. In 1966, during a brief stint as a receptionist for Town and Country magazine, Linda Eastman snagged a press pass to a very exclusive promotional event for the Rolling Stones aboard a yacht on the Hudson River. With her fresh, candid photographs of the band, Linda secured her name as a rock ‘n’ roll photographer. She went on to capture many of rock’s most important musicians on film, including Aretha Franklin, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, Simon & Garfunkel, The Who, The Doors, and the Grateful Dead.

The first female photographer with a cover

of the Rolling Stone magazine.

Linda McCartney was voted US female photographer of the year in 1967, the same year she met Paul in a London nightclub. The following year, she became the first female photographer to have her work featured on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine with her portrait of Eric Clapton.

She was the first person to not only have photographed Rolling Stone’s cover, but to have appeared on the magazine’s front cover herself, with her husband, in 1974.

The couple married in 1969 and had four children – Heather (from Linda’s first marriage), Mary, Stella, and James.

After having become Mrs McCartney she kept photography as a hobby, otherwise she cared for her family, unless of course the band was touring, either Wings or the nameless band who accompanied McCartney from 1989 to 1993. Then she was up on the stage, playing keyboards and singing harmonies. The children usually went along, having private tuition. When not on tour, the children went to ordinary schools, not the private schools, as the McCartneys were keen not to have spoilt children. Another of Linda’s favourite pastimes was horseriding.

Paul and Linda on the cover of

Rolling Stone in 1974.

Outside of her photography, which has been exhibited in over 50 galleries worldwide, Linda McCartney is known for her passionate animal rights activism and her staunch vegetarianism. When the McCartney family turned vegetarians in the early seventies, Linda started to come up with vegetarian versions of the dishes the family was used to eat with meat. After many years, this resulted in the cook book, “Linda McCartney’s Home Cooking” in 1989. As a further development, Linda started up a company which specialised in frozen vegetarian food. This was such a great success that she became a rich businesswoman on her own. Her brand still exists today.

Linda used her photos and snapshots to publish a series of calendar books, which were sold through Wings Fun Club, the official fan club of Paul McCartney and his bands. She also had published “Linda’s Pictures: A Collection of Photographs” in 1978, and a large hardcover book “Linda McCartney’s Sixties: A Portrait of an Era” in 1993 which contained photos from the early days of the career.

Linda died of breast cancer in 1998, at the age of 56 at the McCartney ranch in Tucson, Arizona. Paul McCartney was knighted before she died, so she did enjoy a brief spell as Lady McCartney.

One of the last photos of Paul and Linda together.

After his marriage to Linda, Sir Paul McCartney has remarried twice, first to Heather Mills (2002-2008), with whom he has a daughter, Beatrice Milly, and then to Nancy Shevell (2011- ), to whom he is still married.

Still, Paul has always been championing his late wife Linda’s photographs, and has staged several exhibitions and published more books of her work over the years, before now donating a chunk of the photos to the A&V. He also released a CD of her music, “Wide Prairie“, which Linda recorded with Wings and other musicians over the years, but which was not published while she was alive.

Paul and Linda’s first born daughter Mary has followed in her mother’s footsteps as a professional photographer and she has also written vegetarian cook books. The couple’s second daughter Stella is a famous fashion designer with her own brand and shops. Their youngest, James has been following in his father’s footsteps, so he releases music and holds concerts, although in a much smaller scale than his famous dad. Linda’s oldest daughter Heather, who she had with her first husband Melville See, but who was adopted by Paul, is a ceramic artist and lives in Sussex.

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