One of the most important British painters of the twenetieth century, Vaughan was also an accomplished photographer. His photographs are not only memorable in their own right but directly influenced and provided a source for his paintings.
At the age of 19, Vaughan joined Unilever's advertising agency Lintas as a trainee layout artist, and left it at the age of 27, with the stated aim to become a painter. He had already had encouragement from his art teacher at Christ's Hospital School, and the photographs and collages in this collection show an awareness of both contemporary European photography by such figures as Man Ray, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy and Bill Brandt, and of an emerging Neo-Romantic sensibility. During war service in Britain, he would become friends with leading artists of that movement, such as Graham Sutherland, John Minton and John Craxton. Vaughan's designs also suggest that he had probably absorbed ideas from Bauhaus teachings - Herbert Bayer and Moholy-Nagy having exhibited at the London Gallery in the mid-30's - and from the Surrealists who, besides the major exhibition at the New Burlington Galleries in 1936, had also shown at the Mayor Gallery and at the London Gallery, in its later role under the direction of the Belgian Surrealist E.L.T.Mesens.
With Vaughan's clear interest in photography, artist-colleagues at Lintas had encouraged him to acquire the best pocket camera, a German 35 mm Leica. He had set up his own darkroom at his family home in Lyncroft Gardens, Hampstead which allowed him to experiment with male portrait and nude photography, which might have raised eyebrows then in high street print-processing shops.