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Rolls-Royce Art to Celebrate Centenary - Web Exclusive

In the year that celebrates the centenary of the Spirit of Ecstasy, Rolls-Royce has commission 100 images inspired by the Spirit of Ecstasy.

May 11, 2011

In the year that celebrates the centenary of the Spirit of Ecstasy, Rolls-Royce has commission 100 images inspired by the Spirit of Ecstasy. The famous figurine on the hood of every Rolls-Royce will be captured by renowned photographer Rankin.

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The first two images in the Rankin: Spirit of Ecstasy collection can be seen here. Like Charles Robinson Sykes, the man who crafted the legendary Spirit of Ecstasy flying lady 100 years ago, Rankin also takes inspiration from the feminine form. Just as Eleanor Velasco Thornton is rumored to have been Sykes’ muse for the Spirit of Ecstasy, so Rankin has turned to his inspirational wife and model Tuuli Shipster for the first of his 100 portraits.

Spirit of Ecstasy #1 launches a commission that sees Rankin given full artistic licence to create a modern and personal interpretation of the Spirit of Ecstasy. Featuring Tuuli in silhouette and draped in flowing fabric, the image has undeniable resonance with the flying lady. It also echoes the qualities which inspired Sykes 100 years ago, while capturing the mystery in which she is shrouded; for the question of whether or not Eleanor Thornton was truly the inspiration for the Spirit of Ecstasy 100 years ago remains one of debate rather than hard fact.

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The Rankin: Spirit of Ecstasy collection will evolve in the months ahead, incorporating a variety of themes as part of Rankin’s exploration of the contemporary Spirit of Ecstasy. Power, the beauty of age, intrigue and mystery, speed, wind and metallic will blend with materials, fabrics and paint, to create an unprecedented selection of photographic portraits which will complement each other as a full set, but also work individually to ensure global appeal. The work will feature a selection of women of different ages and cultures, symbolizing the femininity of the Spirit of Ecstasy.

“This is one of the biggest projects I have ever taken on,” commented Rankin. “The images will be a statement about the modern day Rolls-Royce; they will feel fresh, directional and original, while also being beautiful and inspirational. The portraits will comprise a variety of perspectives, including full length as well as close-up shots incorporating facial features.”

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Torsten Müller-Ötvös, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars CEO added, “Rankin’s powerful portraits are part of contemporary iconography. His talent for capturing the strength and character of his subjects makes him the ideal photographer to take the Spirit of Ecstasy into the 21st century. I very much look forward to presenting this unique photographic collection to the world.”

For more information on this unique photographic collection and the locations where it will be presented, visit



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