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Rolls-Royce Motor Cars has unveiled the final three images from the company’s year-long collaboration with renowned photographer Rankin. The images complete the commission of 100 photographs inspired by the Spirit of Ecstasy – one of the world’s most famous symbols, a true icon embodying beauty, luxury, style and elegance and which has gracefully adorned the prow of Rolls-Royce cars past and present.

The tale behind the creation of the Spirit of Ecstasy is one of mystery, glamour and intrigue which began when Lord Montagu, founder of The Car Illustrated, commissioned resident artist, Charles Sykes to sculpt a mascot for his 1909 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost. The final and most important player in this story is Eleanor Valesco Thornton, Lord Montagu’s close personal secretary and lover from whose image this very British legend is believed to originate.

In the year that celebrates the centenary of the Spirit of Ecstasy, Rolls-Royce offered Rankin full artistic license to create a modern and very personal interpretation of The Flying Lady. It’s fitting that the final three images are based on The Whisperer , the earliest and most personal of Charles Sykes’ figurines which include a confidential finger to the lips, believed to be a sly nod to the long secrecy of Montagu’s 10 year love affair with Eleanor Thornton. As Rankin’s photography shows, even 100 years later this very sensual and evocative pose continues to excite and inspire.

A selection of images from The Rankin: Spirit of Ecstasy collection are to be showcased to the public for the first time at The Rankin Gallery, Los Angeles, USA from today until 23 November 2011. A further selection of these iconic images are available to view on the Rolls-Royce Motor Cars stand at the Los Angeles Auto Show from 18 to 27 November 2011.

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