Irving Penn - Photographs London Wednesday, May 17, 2017 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York

  • Literature

    A. Talmey, '90 Day Plan: Reading and Records,’ Vogue US, June 1950, pp. 52-53, there captioned Reading and Listening in the Bath, variant crop
    I. Penn, Moments Preserved, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1960, p. 108, there captioned Summer solitude with music and a book, cooled by a scented bath and a drink

  • Catalogue Essay

    Girl in Bath (Jean Patchett) was first published in the June 1950 issue of Vogue in a spread entitled ‘90 Day Plan: Reading and Records’. The article, by Allene Talmey, uses this photograph to illustrate pairs of reading and listening suggestions, such as Albert Schweitzer’s theology with Bach’s Cello Suites, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Crack Up with Gershwin records, or reading T.S. Eliot alongside recordings of his poetry.

    Irving Penn is known for his use of light and his stark simplicity. For the current lot, Jean Patchett is backlit as she lies in a white bath, which is level with a white stool and set within white walls and white tiled floors. The gramophone, the tap with washcloth, the drink, the book, and the model herself are silhouetted against the light streaming out from behind, creating a serene, elegant ambience and an ideal bathing experience. The simple lines against the gleaming white highlight the details of the scene: her hand at her clavicle and her reflection against the wall, the cord of the gramophone as it snakes its way across the floor, and the light coming through the translucent soap bottle. Printed shortly after the negative date in an edition of six, this is the first time a print from the edition has appeared at auction.

  • 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


Girl in Bath (Jean Patchett), New York

25 April 1950
Gelatin silver print, mounted.
39.3 x 48.1 cm (15 1/2 x 18 7/8 in.)
Signed, initialled, annotated, titled, dated in ink, Condé Nast copyright credit reproduction limitation and edition stamps on the reverse of the mount. One from an edition of 6.

£50,000 - 70,000 

Sold for £118,750

Contact Specialist
Genevieve Janvrin
Co-Head of Photographs, Europe
+44 20 7901 7996

Yuka Yamaji
Co-Head of Photographs, Europe
+44 20 7318 4098


London Auction 18 May 2017