Irving Penn - PHOTOGRAPHS London Tuesday, November 2, 2010 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Hamiltons Gallery, London

  • Literature

    Chorus of Light: Photographs from the Sir Elton John Collection, exh. cat., High Museum of Modern Art, Atlanta, 2000, p. 175

  • Catalogue Essay

    “As we spoke, his mood brightened at the sight of Miles Davis’s hand, etched with spidery wrinkles. Penn was hired to do the jazz great’s photograph for the cover of his 1986 album, Tutu. Davis showed up with a hairdresser and his notorious attitude. ‘I tried to talk to him when he walked in, but he completely ignored me,’ he recalls. Once Davis had finished primping, he stepped in front of the camera.“ Penn continued: ‘“I bet you want me to take this shirt off?” he said. “Yep,” I replied. “I bet you want me to take all these gold chains off, too?” “Yep,” I said again. Then, for about an hour, we went to work. At the end, I said, “Thank you very much”. He got up, came over to me, and kissed me on the mouth. I didn’t know what to say. We shook hands, and he left. Later, I got the chance to know his music, and it struck me as being visual art of a most profound kind. How terrible I couldn’t share that with him then.’ Penn rested a finger across his mouth, as he often does when thinking. ‘This is one of the heartbreaks of the profession,’ he added. ‘I have only the kiss to remember’.”
    (J. Fielden, ‘The Stranger Behind the Camera’, Vogue, November 2004)

  • 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


The Hand of Miles Davis (B), New York


Selenium-toned gelatin silver print, printed 1992.

50.8 x 48.9 cm (20 x 19 1/4 in).
Signed, titled, dated in ink, copyright credit reproduction limitation and edition stamps on the reverse of the mount. One from an edition of 16.

£20,000 - 30,000 

Sold for £99,650


3 November 2010