Enquire 13th June 1955: Film director and auteur Alfred Hitchcock (1899-1980) filming 'The Man Who Knew Too Much', a Paramount remake of his 1934 spy thriller. (Photo by Baron/Getty Images)
Though the son of an Italian, Nahum Sterling Baron (1906 – 1956), known simply as Baron, was the archetypal English ‘gent’ in his customary tweeds and brogues. At the time of his untimely death in 1956, Baron was regarded as one of the rising stars of portraiture in the UK. Everyone who was anyone between 1945 and 1956 sat for him: Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe, Tito, Franco and Dietrich to name but a few.
Baron’s easy-going, affable style together with his love of life marked him out from other photographers and led to personal friendships with a number of his sitters. His star began to rise in the 1930s when he developed a passion and considerable talent for photographing the ballet. He became a regular at the Sadlers Wells company and regularly photographed other companies and ballet legends as they traveled through England. After the war, he focused primarily on celebrity and society portraits.
Baron tended to work quickly, usually due to the impatience of his famous subjects, and put them at ease with his gift for conversation. Obviously captivated by Marilyn Monroe, he later remarked that “she fell automatically into a liquid position which no photographer could possibly invent for her…” Baron perfectly captured Monroe’s child-like quality and aura of innocence during what he regarded as one of his most memorable sessions. His portraits of the star are prime examples of the photographer’s people skills combining with his compositional and technical expertise.