Summertime with the McCartneys

Paul, Stella and James, Scotland, 1982
Linda McCartney / © Paul McCartney
Paul, Stella and James, Scotland, 1982

Thirteen years after her untimely death from breast cancer, the Bonni Benrubi Gallery in New York City is showcasing photographs by Linda McCartney that chronicle her professional career with images of iconic rock-n-roll musicians, celebrities, and warm, tender snapshots of her family. TIME spoke with Paul and Linda’s eldest daughter, Mary McCartney, to get the backstory of this image.

The quirkiness and the impeccable composition of the grainy, black and white photograph of the McCartneys at their summer home in Scotland stands out to strike the imagination and curiosity: Stella crouching in the foreground, Paul in his bathrobe walking along a fence, their eldest son James jumping off of their Land Rover and the family dog Poppy staring off into the distance in the background.  Everyone in the image seems to be in a world of their own, completely unaware of each other’s existence.

Mary reminisced those happy summers her family had spent there. “It’s quite funny because dad [is] walking up and down that fence. We always used to have a competition to see who could get down the furthest along the fence before they fell off.”  Mary recalled, “It’s amazing because [the photograph] wasn’t preconceived and it wasn’t directed. She would have been hanging out there, seeing everyone there and that would have caught her eye.” On their private estate, Mary and her siblings wandered outdoors, exploring the land, recalling that “Stella and I would often go off on little adventures and dig out forts and come up with lots of imaginary games.”

Linda McCartney: Life in Photographs is on view at the Bonni Benrubi Gallery until July 29, 2011.

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