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6th March 2018

Dutch photographer Bart van Leeuwen (1950-2017) turned heads as soon as he started taking photos. His first pictures were published when he was just 17 years old and his remarkable career escalated from there.

His photographs are most inspired by film noir and Italian neorealism. He spent much time in the centre of the fashion world in London and Paris, capturing moments in time on camera in a narrative, cinematic style. Often using cities as expressive backdrops, he preferred mastering subtle and believable expressions in his subjects rather than crafting perfectly posed compositions. His subjects rarely look directly at the camera and thus at the viewer of the photographs, creating distance but intrigue.

Over his career, Bart van Leeuwen captured the imagination of many people in the public eye too. He travelled the world for magazines ranging from Harper’s Bazaar and Cosmopolitan, to Wallpaper and i-D. He also photographed many celebrities, including Bob Geldof, Andy Warhol, Freddie Mercury, Giorgio Armani and Jerry Hall.

Entitled Secrecy, the photograph by Bart van Leeuwen in THE BAR at The Athenaeum captures the essence of all he is known for. Like a moment in a film, the photograph catches an enthralling juncture between two women. As a viewer, it’s difficult not to speculate about what situation you’re intruding on. Also embodying the essence of high fashion and the suggestion of seduction, this photograph from van Leeuwen’s Modern Romantics collection is the perfect example of his work. Grasping the essence of a bygone era with trimmings of Art Deco style, this is certainly a photograph to get lost in while enjoying a drink.

Next time you’re at THE BAR at The Athenaeum, choose the drink of your liking, whether it’s one of our signature cocktails designed by renowned Italian cocktail entrepreneur Giancarlo Mancino, or one of the whiskies from our prized collection. Glass in hand, make a toast to Bart van Leeuwen, a photographer whose work embodies elegance and glamour blended with spontaneity and human insight. Now that’s something worth celebrating.

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