Helen Muspratt Photographer

About the exhibition

The pioneering photographer, Helen Muspratt (1907–2001) produced some of the most astonishing images of the twentieth century.


This exhibition explored an extraordinary body of work in many different styles and genres from experimental photography using techniques such as solarisation, to social documentary and studio portraiture.

In the late 1930s Muspratt opened a studio in Oxford where she became established as a remarkable portrait photographer. Critical to all her work was her preoccupation with the face – its ‘shape and angle’ – and she became an eminent portrait photographer recording some of the leading figures of the twentieth century.

Helen Muspratt's creative experiments

A chance viewing of one of Man Ray’s solarised photographs in a photographic magazine led to Muspratt’s experiments with this technique and others, including rayographs and multiple exposures. During this period Muspratt produced some of her most innovative work.


This exhibition marks the recent and important gift of the Helen Muspratt photographic archive to the Bodleian Libraries, including over 2,000 original prints and numerous surviving negatives. This retrospective forms part of Photo Oxford Festival 2020, the theme for which is Women and Photography and coincides with the centenary of the first woman matriculating and graduating from the University of Oxford.  

 The curator

Jessica Sutcliffe

A red logo showing the sign & and the word ampersand

The Bodleian Libraries are grateful to Ellen Miller for her support of the exhibition and the Ampersand Foundation for its support of the photographic archives.