Irving Penn - ULTIMATE Evening & Photographs Day Sales London Thursday, May 17, 2018 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Hamiltons Gallery, London
    Private Collection, Europe

  • Literature

    A. West, ‘Free, Profuse, Strong as a Wolf, the Poppy is Vital, Persistent’, Vogue US, December 1969, p. 207
    I. Penn, Flowers, London: Jonathan Cape, 1980, p. 11
    J. Szarkowski, Irving Penn, New York: MoMA, 1984
    Irving Penn: Centennial, New York: The MET, 2017, pl. 206, p. 307

  • Catalogue Essay

    ‘Free, profuse, strong as a wolf, the poppy is vital, persistent.’

    Anthony West, American Vogue, December 1969

    Irving Penn captures the exquisite Three Poppies with elegance and minimalism against his signature white backdrop. His seemingly uncomplicated composition places emphasis on the form, detail and structure of this opulent trio of ‘Arab Chief’ poppies, a variety that boasts massive nine-inch blooms of intense ruby red. Penn's flowers graced the pages of the holiday issues of American Vogue from 1967-73 with each year’s issue celebrating a specific flower. Poppies defined 1969.

    The culmination of this body of work was carefully compiled in his 1980 publication Flowers, which contained photographs not published by Vogue. As Penn notes in the introduction, he found liberty in working with a subject that was so foreign to him: ‘It has left me free to react with simple pleasure just to form and colour, without being diverted by considerations of rarity or tied to the convention that a flower must be photographed at its moment of unblemished, nubile perfection.’ The knowledge Penn may have lacked in his subject matter is more than compensated by his mastery over every detail from the billowing edges of the poppy to the intricate rings of its stamen meticulously captured by his 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

ULTIMATE Property from an Important European Collection


Three Poppies, Arab Chief, New York

Dye transfer print, printed 1992.
55 x 46.2 cm (21 5/8 x 18 1/4 in.)
Signed, initialled, titled, dated, Condé Nast copyright credit reproduction limitation and edition stamps on the verso.

This image was realised only in a dye transfer edition of 27.

£80,000 - 120,000 

Sold for £93,750

Contact Specialist
Genevieve Janvrin
Co-Head of Photographs, Europe
+33 1 53 71 77 87

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

ULTIMATE Evening & Photographs Day Sales

London Auction 18 May 2018