Irving Penn - Photographs London Friday, May 15, 2009 | Phillips

Create your first list.

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

  • Provenance

    Private Collection, Europe

  • Literature

    Vogue, January 1952, pp. 132-33; Smithosian Institute, Irving Penn: Master Images, 1990, p. 42; Thames & Hudson, Lisa Fonssagrives: Three Decades of Classic Fashion Photography, 1996, p.10; Art Institute of Chicago, Irving Penn: A Career in Photography, 1997, pl. 24

  • Catalogue Essay

    Swedish born Lisa Fonssagrives was one of the greatest and most glamorous models in the history of fashion photography.  It could be argued that Steichen's favourite models such as Marion Morehouse and Lee Miller were the first “supermodels” during the 1920s when he captured them in the latest fashions for Vogue magazine.   But Fonssagrives not only modelled for most of mid-20th century's most fashionable photographers such as Georges Hoyningen-Huene, Man Ray, Horst, Erwin Blumenfeld, George Platt Lynes and Richard Avedon—She also married two of them—Parisan photographer Fernand Fonssagrives in 1935 and Irving Penn in 1950.  Her marriage to Penn, which also produced a daughter and son, would endure until her death in 1992.
    From the 1930s through the 1950s she adorned dozens of covers and hundreds of magazine spreads for Vogue, Life and Town & Country. This photograph, taken a year after her marriage to Penn was featured in the January 1952 issue of Vogue in a story called “Moroccan Handbook.” Penn who had first aimed his sights on being a painter but abandoned those aspirations after Vogue art director Alexander Liberman hired him to dream up cover ideas in the legendary Condé Nast Studio just after World War II. Frustrated by the staff photographer's, such as John Rawlings and Horst, lack of enthusiasm for his ideas, Liberman urged Penn to take the photographs himself. Thus was born one of the great collaborations of a photographer and a single publication that has endured now for over sixty years—not to mention his place as an unparalleled master in the entire history of photography.
    Penn's artistic training and knowledge of art history has always informed his editorial and personal work. While the famous Odalisques (virgin female slaves of the harem of Turkish sultans) of Ingres and Delacroix come to mind as sources or inspirations, one also ponders the great 1920s Odalisque paintings of Henri Matisse whose major retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art was on view in New York at the end of 1951. Always transcending categorization and genre, Penn gives us at once a portrait, still life and interior with Fonssagrives costuming her ideal “western beauty” enrobed in orientalist exoticism as she focuses her gaze on her husband's lens.

  • Artist Biography

    Irving Penn

    American • 1917 - 2009

    Arresting portraits, exquisite flowers, luscious food and glamorous models populate Irving Penn's meticulously rendered, masterful prints. Penn employed the elegant simplicity of a gray or white backdrop to pose his subjects, be it a model in the latest Parisian fashion, a famous subject or veiled women in Morocco.

    Irving Penn's distinct aesthetic transformed twentieth-century elegance and style, with each brilliant composition beautifully articulating his subjects. Working across several photographic mediums, Penn was a master printmaker. Regardless of the subject, each and every piece is rendered with supreme beauty. 

    View More Works


Woman in Palace (Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn), Marrakech, Morocco

Gelatin silver print, printed 1992.
39.1 x 38.7 cm. (15 3/8 x 15 1/4 in).
Signed, titled, dated in ink, Condé Nast copyright credit reproduction limitation and edition stamps on the reverse of the mount. One from an edition of 40 silver prints.

£60,000 - 80,000 

Sold for £67,250


16 May 2009, 3pm