From Pauline to Carlotta. The search of the portrait in Vertigo, from the commission to Manlio Sarra to John Ferren's painting

Angela Leonarduzzi


At a first sight, the story of the famous portrait featured in Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo (1958) may seem wrapped in an intriguingly elusive aurea that curiously resonates with its narrative rendition in the film. Despite having already been brought to the attention of the film studies community by Steven Jacobs, whose analysis relied on some of the Alfred Hitchcock Papers preserved by the Margaret Herrick Library of Los Angeles, the production history of the iconic painting still keeps some hidden depths. Before American abstract artist John Ferren’s artwork was chosen to appear in the movie, in fact, three different earlier versions of the painting were commissioned and sketched across Europe and the United States during the early film production phase. One of these versions, which reached Hollywood from Rome via the Italian subsidiary of Paramount Films, was authored by Manlio Sarra, an updated and versatile artist trained in the context of the Fifties “Roman Art School”.


Hitchcock; Vertigo; Portraits; Sarra; Ferren

DOI: 10.6092/issn.2280-9481/8227


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Copyright (c) 2018 Angela Leonarduzzi

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