Helmut Newton - Photographs London Tuesday, November 23, 2021 | Phillips

Create your first list.

Select an existing list or create a new list to share and manage lots you follow.

  • 'A woman does not spend her life sitting or standing in front of a seamless white paper background.'
    —Helmut Newton
    Created in Paris in 1974, this striking image presents a close-up view of a nude model reclining on a leather divan with her long legs crossed in a relaxed yet seductive manner, wearing only nail varnish and a pair of strappy heels. Taken from above, only the lower half of her body is visible. Helmut Newton (1920-2004) seamlessly balances light against dark and exquisitely renders contrasting textures in this cinematic composition. The monumental scale of the present lot enhances his unique vision of women as sculptural and larger than life.  
    Frequently rejecting the traditional studio backdrop, Newton preferred to photograph his subjects on location, conveying their integrity and agency through varied settings. ‘A woman does not spend her life sitting or standing in front of a seamless white paper background,’ he explained. ‘I prefer to take my camera out into the street, into public and private places.’ Within the personal sanctuary of a home setting, Mercedes’ pose appears natural and confident; her dramatically cropped figure filling the frame commands our attention. Within Newton’s œuvre, Mercedes is exceptional for its heightened sense of intimacy, inviting us to partake in this private rendezvous between the artist and his subject.

    Phillips Photographs extend our sincere thanks to Dr Matthias Harder, Director & Curator of the Helmut Newton Foundation, for his expertise and advice.

    • Provenance

      Hamiltons Gallery, London
      Galerie Andrea Caratsch, Zurich, 2007

    • Artist Biography

      Helmut Newton

      German • 1920 - 2004

      Helmut Newton's distinct style of eroticism and highly produced images was deemed rebellious and revolutionary in its time, as he turned the expected notion of beauty, depicted by passive and submissive women, on its head. Depicting his models as strong and powerful women, Newton reversed gender stereotypes and examined society's understanding of female desire.

      Newton created a working space for his models that was part decadent and part unorthodox — a safe microcosm in which fantasies became reality. And perhaps most famously of all, Newton engendered an environment in which his female models claimed the space around them with unapologetic poise and commanding sensuality. His almost cinematic compositions provided a hyper-real backdrop for the provocative images of sculptural, larger-than-life women, and enhanced the themes of voyeurism and fetishism that run throughout his work.

      View More Works



Mercedes, Paris

Gelatin silver print, mounted, printed 2001.
Image/Sheet: 110 x 160 cm (43 1/4 x 62 7/8 in.)
Frame: 113 x 164 cm (44 1/2 x 64 5/8 in.)

Signed, titled, dated '1974' [sic] and numbered 3/3 in ink on the reverse of the mount.

This work is number 3 from the edition of 3. As of this writing, the other prints from the edition are held privately. This image in this rare, oversized edition is appearing at auction for the first time.


Full Cataloguing

£100,000 - 150,000 

Sold for £126,000

Contact Specialist

Rachel Peart
Head of Department, London

Yuka Yamaji
Head of Photographs, Europe

General Enquiries
+44 20 7318 4092


London Auction 23 November 2021