TPG Golden Editions: Terence Donovan

Black and white close up cropped image of someone holding a spoon in their hand with a bowl and glasses on the table

TPG Golden Editions: Terence Donovan

The tenth release in TPG’s 50th Anniversary ‘Golden Editions’ series is this charming image by British photographer Terence Donovan (1936-1996).

Black and white close up cropped image of someone holding a spoon in their hand with a bowl and glasses on the table

TPG Golden Editions #10: Terence Donovan

Margaret’s Wedding, 17 September 1960
10 x 12 inches
Modern silver gelatin print
Edition of 15
Stamped and signed on the reverse by Diana Donovan
From £600 + VAT, unframed

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A uniquely personal image, Margaret’s Wedding has been made available in collaboration with the Terence Donovan Archive. Working closely with the Print Sales team, Diana Donovan, Terence Donovan’s widow and the founder of his archive, helped to choose a photograph she felt best captured “the sensitivity that was so evident in all his work.”

Fascinated by photography and printmaking from a young age, Donovan catapulted to fame while documenting London’s Swinging Sixties scene with his camera. After establishing his own studio at age 22, commissions from leading fashion and lifestyle magazines soon followed, including Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and Elle France. Donovan’s signature style was bold, dynamic, and often irreverent, and his images helped to establish a new visual language fitting for the post-war cultural revolution. He was an active observer, among the first wave of celebrity photographers socialising with, as well as photographing, the actors, musicians, designers and models who came to represent the decade.

This image, taken at a family wedding reception just over sixty years ago, comes from Donovan’s archive of personal work. In between the well-coiffed guests celebrating in Tooting, South London, he caught the eye of a young partygoer, attending to a bowl of soup. The adults at the table are oblivious to Donovan’s roving lens, but in this small, beautiful moment, the child recognises at least one adult at the party is paying attention – the man with the camera.

Terence introduced me to The Photographers’ Gallery in the early 1970s when we were first married. He had an inexhaustible interest in all things photographic, but he much enjoyed visiting the Gallery when it was based at Great Newport Street. He was excited there was a space solely dedicated to celebrating photography in London. 

Diana Donovan

Diana continues: "He bought photographs from the Print Sales department which he loved and which I still have hanging on my wall more than 20 years later. Following Terence’s death in 1996, I established his archive and, as a result, became immersed in the world of a photography in a way I had not been previously. I was particularly delighted to continue our family association with TPG when I was asked to become a Trustee of the Gallery in 2007.

I am very proud to be participating in the 50th anniversary activities by contributing an image to the Golden Editions range. I think Terence would be equally thrilled to be helping to celebrate and support an institution of which he was such a fan. Photography was absolutely his vocation and he always seized the opportunity to share his enthusiasm for the medium with others. This unwavering passion for photography, and a belief in its power to educate and enrich, is obviously fundamental to the ethos of the Gallery.”


Terence Donovan was one of the foremost photographers of his generation, with a career spanning almost 40 years. He came to prominence in London as part of a post-war renaissance in art, design and music, representing a new force in fashion and, later, advertising and portrait photography. He operated at the heart of London’s swinging sixties, both as participant in and observer of the world he so brilliantly and incisively captured with his camera.

Gifted with an unerring eye for the iconic as well as the transformative, Donovan was a master of his craft, a technical genius who pushed the limits of what was possible with a camera. Terence Donovan was born, the only child of a working class family, in East London in 1936. Fascinated by photographs and photographic processing as a young boy, his professional life started at the age of 11 at the London School of Photo-Engraving, which he left at 15 to become a photographer’s assistant. After a year at the John French studio (1957–58) he left, opening his own first photographic studio in 1959 at the age of 22.

Donovan came to prominence as part of the now famous era of ‘Swinging London’, a postwar renaissance in art, fashion, graphic design and photography. Associated at this time with David Bailey and Brian Duffy, these three English photographers (nicknamed the “Black Trinity’) revolutionised the world of magazine and newspaper photography. Shooting mostly with black-and-white film, Donovan’s iconoclastic and sometimes irreverent photography brought to magazines and advertising a new visual language rooted in the world he knew best – the streets of London’s East End. Taking his models to bomb-ravaged wastegrounds or balancing them off steelworks and iron bridges, his gritty and noir-ish style was more like reportage than fashion photography, and unlike anything that had gone before.

A retrospective exhibition of Donovan’s London photographs was held at the Museum of London in 1999 and a large-format anthology of his photographs ‘Terence Donovan: The Photographs’ was published in 2000. In 2012 ‘Terence Donovan Fashion’ was published, edited by his widow, Diana Donovan, and Donovan’s friend and colleague, the pre-eminent graphic designer, David Hillman. In 2015 Terence Donovan’s work featured as part of ‘Work, Rest and Play: British Photography from the 1960s to today’, an ongoing touring survey exhibition in China and at FOAM in Amsterdam in ‘Swinging Sixties London: Photography in the Capital of Cool’. Over the summer of 2016, the first major retrospective of Donovan’s work was staged at The Photographers’ Gallery in London. ‘Speed of Light’ (15 July - 25 September) spanned the entirety of Donovan’s four-decade career. The Archive has also worked with Italian publishers Damiani to produce ‘Terence Donovan Portraits’, the first dedicated collection of Donovan’s portraiture. More recently, Donovan’s images have been shown in numerous group exhibitions around the world including at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, The J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the Kunstpalast in Düsseldorf, and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.