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Hug Backstage

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    london (photographed)

  • Date:

    2004 (photographed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    McCartney, Mary (photographer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    gelatin silver print

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mary McCartney

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F, case X, shelf 974, box C

Mary McCartney is a British photographer known for portraiture and fashion photography. She has regularly been commissioned for publications such as Harper's Bazaar and British Vogue, as well as brands including Selfridges, De Beers and the Brit Awards. In 2015 McCartney was chosen to take the official photograph of Queen Elizabeth II to mark the occasion of her becoming the longest reigning Monarch in history. McCartney has had a number of solo exhibitions, including Off Pointe - A Photographic Study of the Royal Ballet After Hours at the Royal Opera House, 2004, and From Where I Stand at the National Portrait Gallery in 2010. She has released two photographic books, Mary McCartney: From Where I Stand in 2010 and Mary McCartney: Monochrome & Colour in 2014.

This selection of fourteen photographs are taken from McCartney’s first solo exhibition, featuring behind the scenes pictures of dancers in the Corps De Ballet during a run of performances at The Royal Opera House between 2004-2007. McCartney has spoken of her desire to capture unguarded, spontaneous moments; for this project, she spent a large amount of time backstage getting to know the dancers, meaning she was able to capture particularly intimate moments when invited into the dancer’s homes and dressing rooms. McCartney deliberately avoided photographing the dancers on stage or in rehearsals. She aimed to explore contradictions between the perfection of the storybook world of ballet depicted onstage with the imperfect reality of the dancer’s day to day lives.

Physical description

A theatrically dressed ballerina, her hair pulled back in a bun, is the focus of this photograph. She is sitting on a man's lap while he embraces her. Behind the pair, the profiles of two women, presumably also ballerinas, can be seen.

Place of Origin

london (photographed)


2004 (photographed)


McCartney, Mary (photographer)

Materials and Techniques

gelatin silver print


Height: 50.5 cm, Width: 40.5 cm, :

Descriptive line

Photograph by Mary McCartney, 'Hug Backstage', from the series Off Pointe - A Photographic Study of the Royal Ballet After Hours, 2004, gelatin silver print


Photographic paper


Photography; Gelatin silver

Subjects depicted

Intimacy; Performance; Ballerina




Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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