David Beckham at Whipps Cross Hospital

Published Friday 6 December by Owen

Video Portrait of David Beckham is COMING HOME to his place of birth at Whipps Cross Hospital, Leytonstone

The renowned video portrait of David Beckham sleeping by internationally-acclaimed artist and film director Sam Taylor-Johnson has been unveiled today in its temporary new home at Whipps Cross University Hospital, Leytonstone, as part of the National Portrait Gallery’s flagship programme COMING HOME.  

COMING HOME sees 50 portraits of iconic individuals from the national Collection traveling to the towns and cities most closely associated with their subjects. In the National Portrait Gallery’s first major loan to a hospital, the film David Beckham (“David”) will be on display until xxxx 2020 in the Ultra Sound Department. The loan has been organised in collaboration with Vital Arts, on behalf of Barts Health NHS Trust, East London, and is part of Waltham Forest London Borough of Culture 2019.    

David was commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery in 2004 with support from J.P.Morgan through the Fund for New Commissions. Sam Taylor-Johnson’s intimate portrait presents a reverential and vulnerable image of the international football icon. Drawing inspiration from the Renaissance artist Michelangelo’s Allegory of Night and Pop Artist Andy Warhol’s film Sleep featuring the poet John Giorno, Taylor-Johnson shot the film in a single long take, capturing Beckham asleep in Madrid after a long training session with his team.  Simply lit from one light source, this rich, painterly film, is a meditation of celebrity. 

Beckham was born in Whipps Cross University Hospital on 2 May 1975. Growing up nearby in Leytonstone, he had scored over a hundred goals for his childhood team the Ridgeway Rovers by the age of eight. He became the first English player to win league titles in four countries while playing for Manchester United (1992–2003), Real Madrid (2003–7), LA Galaxy (2007–12) and Paris Saint-Germain (2013). He also captained the English team 115 times. Beckham retired in 2013, dedicating himself to his new team Inter Miami CF and charitable work, including his role as a UNICEF Ambassador.

Since making this portrait, Taylor-Johnson (b. 1967) has directed the film Nowhere Boy about the Beatle John Lennon’s adolescence starring her husband Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Lennon. She also directed the hit film adaptation of Fifty-Shades of Grey.


Throughout 2020 COMING HOME will also see:

  • Meera Syal by Jason Bell, 2002, will travel to the Wolverhampton Art Gallery
  • The Mission of Mercy: Florence Nightingale receiving the Wounded at Scutari by Jerry Barrett, 1857, will travel the Derby Museum and Art Gallery
  • The 16th century portrait of Richard III by an unknown artist will travel to the Yorkshire Museum in York, following its recent display in Leicester
  • Malala Yousafzai by Shirin Neshat, 2018, will travel to Aston Hall in Birmingham. 

The National Portrait Gallery has been collecting portraits of men and women who have made a significant contribution to British life and history since 1856. 

As part of COMING HOME, the Gallery will be working with local museums, galleries and other venues to help choose portraits that are special to them, providing communities across the country with the opportunity to celebrate their local heroes. 

COMING HOME is supported by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, by generous contributions from The Thompson Family Charitable Trust, and by funds raised at the gallery’s Portrait Gala in 2017.

Dr Nicholas Cullinan, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, said: In our first-ever loan of an artwork to a hospital, we could not be more delighted to lend David to Whipps Cross Hospital as part of our exciting COMING HOME initiative. We hope that sending portraits ‘home’ in this way will foster a sense of pride and create a personal connection for local communities to a bigger national history; thus, helping to fulfil our aim of being truly a national gallery for everyone, in our role as the nation’s family album.

Sam Hunt, Creative Director, Waltham Forest London Borough of Culture 2019, said: Throughout our year as the first Mayor's London Borough of Culture, we have been putting culture on every corner and in the heart of communities. COMING HOME is an incredible initiative offering more opportunities for people to enjoy art. We are proud to welcome home one of the borough’s most famous sons and hope that this work by Sam Taylor-Johnson inspires future athletes and artists alike.