Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh, 1937 (Unknown photographer)

Shedding light on romantic love in all its shapes and forms, the National Portrait Gallery will open ticket sales for its winter blockbuster exhibition, Love Stories this Friday on Valentine's Day.

The exhibition will feature historic and contemporary portraits from London’s revered National Portrait Gallery, alongside the National Portrait Gallery Australia’s own collection. Drawing on different aspects of love – from the forbidden, the tragic and the controversial to the celebrated and the all-consuming, Love Stories offers an insight into different aspects of romantic love and the role of portraits within its formation of remembrance.

At the heart of the exhibition is a series of real-life love stories. Various aspects of romantic love are explored – and the role of portraits within it – from images which capture an artists’ obsession with their muse, to those that record tragedy, or celebrate the triumph of love against the odds.

A central theme is the passionate, competitive and at times unconventional relationships that have existed across the centuries between creative couples – Paul and Linda McCartney, Robert and Elizabeth Browning, Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes to Lady Caroline Lamb and Lord Byron to name a few.

Linda and Paul McCartney, May 1976 (Humphrey Ocean)

In addition, several new photographs depicting high-profile Australian love stories will be commissioned especially for the exhibition.

Revealing love as a constant and defining element of the human experience, Love Stories features:

  • Portraits of some of the world’s most recognized couples including Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh, Yoko Ono and John Lennon, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall, and Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex.

  • Great literary love partnerships including Gertrude Stein and Alice B.Toklas, Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes, Lord Byron and Lady Caroline Lamb, and Mary and Percy Shelley.

  • Historic masterpieces, notably Sir Anthony Van Dyck’s portrait of Venetia, Lady Digby (c 1633-1634) and her husband Sir Kenelm Digby.

  • Works by Sir Joshua Reynolds, Cecil Beaton, Annie Leibowitz, Man Ray, David Hockney, Patrick Lichfield among many others.

Love Stories will officially open in Australia in June before an international tour. The exhibition is one of the first of the National Portrait Gallery London’s collection exhibitions to tour while the gallery is closed for three years to undergo a major renovation.

Take someone you love to see Love Stories - tickets go on sale on Valentines Day, 14th of February!


Dates: Sat 20 June - Sat 11 October

Location: National Portrait Gallery - King Eadward Terrace, Parkes, Canberra, ACT

Time: 10am - 5pm daily

NGV Website