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  • Provenance

    Christie's, New York, 5 April 2012, lot 77
    Private Collection, Italy

  • Exhibited

    I Platini di Irving Penn: 25 Anni di Fotografia (Irving Penn Platinum Plates), Galleria Civica d'Arte Moderna, Turin, 3 April - 31 May 1975; Galleria d’Arte Moderna di Bologna (now Museo d'Arte Moderna di Bologna), 18 June - 27 July 1975; The Photographers' Gallery, London, 1 - 31 October 1975

  • Literature

    ‘The Black and White Idea’, Vogue US, April 1950, cover
    ‘The Black and White Idea’, British Vogue, June 1950, cover
    I. Penn, Moments Preserved, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1960, p. 159
    D. Palazzoli & M. Levi, I Platini di Irving Penn: 25 Anni di Fotografia (Irving Penn Platinum Plates), Turin: Galleria Civica d'Arte Moderna di Torino, 1975, p. 21
    P. Devlin, Vogue Book of Fashion Photography: The First Sixty Years, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1979, p. 90
    H. Gee, Photography of the Fifties: An American Perspective, Tucson: Univeristy of Arizona, 1980, p. 153
    J. Szarkowski, Irving Penn, New York: MoMA, 1984, pl. 48
    M. Weaver ed., The Art of Photography: 1839-1989, Yale UP, 1989, pl. 441
    M. Harrison, Appearances: Fashion Photography Since 1945, New York: Rizzoli, 1991, p. 59
    C. Westerbeck, ed., Irving Penn: A Career in Photography, Chicago: AIC, 1997, pl. 4
    '90 Years of Vogue’, British Vogue, December 2006, cover
    H. Koda & K. Yohannan, The Model as Muse: Embodying Fashion, New York: The MET, 2009, p. 27
    N. Angeletti & A. Oliva, In Vogue: The Illustrated History of the World’s Most Famous Fashion Magazine, New York: Rizzoli, 2012, p. 129

  • Catalogue Essay

    The legendary Irving Penn photographed at Vogue for over six decades, during which time he created an unprecedented 165 covers. The present image, Black and White Vogue Cover (Jean Patchett), graced the cover of the 1 April 1950 issue of American Vogue. It was not only his first cover in black and white but also the magazine’s first non-colour cover since May 1932. Vogue’s influential Art Director Alexander Liberman called Penn’s photographs ‘stoppers’ for their arresting quality that would stop you in your tracks. This attribute is epitomised in Black and White Vogue Cover, which has undeniably become one of Penn’s most enduring images.

    At a time when his peers were creating fashion photographs with ornate settings, Penn’s seemingly minimalist approach was unconventional and distinctive. He replaced indulgent sets with plain backdrops that enabled him to extract the essence of his subjects. Black and White Vogue Cover perfectly exemplifies his emphasis on form, shape and line. The juxtaposition of black and white in this composition reveals his discerning eye and understanding of positive and negative space. Jean Patchett, the subject of this image and one of Penn’s favourite models, recalled his brilliance in constructing an entirely monochromatic vision: ‘My lips were black. I remember using eyebrow pencil on my lips.’

    Part scientist, all artist, Penn experimented for years before arriving in 1967 at the perfect combination of platinum and palladium, which resulted in prints ‘far finer and sweeter’ than platinum alone. His unwavering dedication to the platinum-palladium process was demonstrated in his hand-coating of every print. ‘I myself brushed every single print,’ he recalls. ‘I’d be jealous of anyone else doing that. I printed many at night. I’d shake Lisa by the shoulder in bed. If she liked the picture, she’d reach up and pull me down for a kiss.’ Throughout his unparalleled career, Penn remained deeply interested in the printing process and the many ways in which a single negative can be interpreted.

    Black and White Vogue Cover was first realised in platinum-palladium no later than 1968 in an edition of 34. It is likely that this image was one of the first fashion images Penn printed using his newly perfected process. As indicated in his hand on the verso, the platinum-palladium print offered here is the actual print that was exhibited in his first international solo exhibition in 1975. Opening at Turin’s Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna then travelling to Galleria d'Arte Moderna di Bologna (currently Museo d’Arte Moderna di Bologna) and London’s The Photographers’ Gallery, the show was dedicated to his platinum-palladium prints and featured fresh iterations of images he had originally created for Vogue. Later, in 1984, a gelatin silver edition not exceeding 16 was realised.

  • 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



Black and White Vogue Cover (Jean Patchett), New York

Platinum-palladium print, printed 1968.
Approximately 43 x 34 cm (16 7/8 x 13 3/8 in.)
Copyright credit blindstamp in margin; signed, initialled, titled, dated, numbered 11/34, annotated in pencil, Condé Nast copyright credit reproduction limitation and edition stamps on the verso.

This work is number 11 from the edition of 34. As of this writing, the Art Institute of Chicago holds another print from this edition.

£200,000 - 300,000 

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

Yuka Yamaji
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+44 20 7318 4098

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