Irving Penn - Photographs London Monday, November 17, 2014 | Phillips

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  • Video

    IRVING PENN 'The Hand of Miles Davis (C), New York', 1986

    "Penn did say afterwards that he was blown away by him [Miles Davis]. He went home and listened to his music and that was it, he said he would never forget that day." Lou Proud, Head of Photographs, London tells the story behind the creation of the photograph 'The Hand of Miles Davis (C), New York' by Irving Penn in 1986.

  • Provenance

    Hamiltons Gallery, London

  • Literature

    Irving Penn: Collection Privée, Fribourg: Musée d'art et d'histoire; Wabern-Bern: Bentelli, 1994, p. 103 pl. 76
    Irving Penn, Photographs: A Donation in Memory of Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn, Stockholm: Moderna Museet/ Raster Förlag, 1996, pp. 187, 263

  • Catalogue Essay

    ‘...when I opened the front door. I was frozen by three giant photos of open hands of the great Miles Davis at the entrance, blown up tenfold against a white wall. Penn was known to capture the essence of who or what he shot, to simplify the subject down to the truth. There was the truth about Miles, right at the front door, right in front of me.

    Miles had opened wide his palm for Penn. This was the hand that made the music we all fell in love with as Miles sounded like no other. Penn's had shot the tragedy. Miles heart line was riddled with islands, tragedy after tragedy. I knew him well and if you, like me believe in your palm telling your life story, it was there open wide at the door. There was more proof in Penn's photo of Miles tragedy as I never knew a man who got it so wrong. After his first marriage to his beloved wife, Frances, Miles romantically went down the tubes. The tragedy of his heart made his music sweeter.’
    (V. Tiel, ‘My recent visit to the Irving Penn exhibit', ‘Assignment’, The Huffington Post, 15 October 2013)

  • 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 (C), New York

Selenium toned gelatin silver print, printed 1992.
47.8 x 47.8 cm (18 7/8 x 18 7/8 in.)
Signed, titled, dated, initialled in ink, copyright credit reproduction limitation, credit and edition stamps on the reverse of the mount. One from an edition of 15.

£45,000 - 55,000 

Sold for £86,500

Contact Specialist
Lou Proud
Head of Photographs
+ 44 207 318 4018


London 18 November 2014