Ten images captured by the late Hungarian-born photojournalist reveal the highlights of an illustrious career.

Something of a 'who's who' of the famous faces of the 1950s and 60s, the display includes photographs of Samuel Beckett in his Paris apartment, Nelson Mandela on a brief visit to London and Paul McCartney with The Beatles during the making of the film Help!.

Also featured is one of Peto’s last sittings, a young Ian McKellen, pictured at the time of his success in the theatre production of Richard II.

Born in 1908 in Bata, Hungary, Peto settled in London at the outbreak of the Second World War. Originally starting out as a writer, his interest in photography stemmed from a desire to illustrate his own work.

His pictures were first published in The Observer in March 1949, after which he became a regular contributor to the paper, going on to document the key figures and social issues of the era.

Following Peto's death in 1970, his family donated his archive of 130,000 original negatives and vintage prints to the University of Dundee.

The ten featured in this display were printed from Peto's original negatives and have been gifted to the National Portrait Gallery to celebrate his remarkable contribution to portrait photography.

National Portrait Gallery

St Martin's Place, London, Greater London, WC2H 0HE

020 7306 0055


Opening times

Saturday - Thursday: 10am – 6pm
Friday: 10am – 9pm
Closed 24 – 26 Dec

Free to all

50% off exhibitions with National Art Pass

Haven't got your pass yet? Learn more

Exhibitions and events at National Portrait Gallery

Exhibitions nearby

Back to top