Irving Penn - Photographs London Wednesday, November 2, 2016 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Private Collection, Europe

  • Literature

    'The Lip Fix', Vogue US, December 1995, pp. 306-307, variant
    P. Posnick, E. Respini, Extreme Beauty in Vogue, Skira, 2009, n.p.
    P. Posnick, Stoppers: Photographs from My Life at Vogue, Abrams, 2016, pp. 202-203, variant, to be published November 2016

  • Catalogue Essay

    ‘He changed the way we saw the world and our perception of what is beautiful.’

    Anna Wintour

    ‘For this picture, we had to fly a bee keeper from New Mexico. Bees become docile and harmless when cold, and our bee keeper knew the exact temperature for this state of induced hibernation – he put them in the fridge. Penn remembered that “Bee Stung Lips” had been a popular expression in the 1950s to characterise full, pouty lips. So in 1995, when women started having collagen injected to make their lips fuller, he thought using this idea was a perfect illustration for the Vogue article. Our first task was to find a brave model who had no insect phobias. Estella Warren was fearless and she posed patiently while our wrangler placed one bee after another on her lips. From behind his camera, Penn gave instructions: first he asked her to close her mouth, then open it a little, then a little more. We tried many different bees and Estella made different shapes with her mouth. In fact, she became very playful, and at one point, stuck her tongue out and flicked a bee onto it. When a bee began to warm up under the studio lights, the wrangler quickly substituted a colder one. No photographer or editor or bee was harmed during the shoot. At the end of the day, our bee keeper calmly packed up his colony and took them back home to New Mexico.’

    Phyllis Posnick

  • 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



Bee on Lips, New York

Dye transfer print, printed 1999.
Image: 40.5 x 57.1 cm (15 7/8 x 22 1/2 in)
Sheet: 49 x 58.7 cm (19 1/4 x 23 1/8 in.)

Signed, initialled, titled, dated in pencil, Condé Nast copyright credit reproduction limitation, credit and edition stamps on the verso. One from an edition of 11.

This image was realised only as a dye transfer print in an edition of 11.

£80,000 - 120,000 

Sold for £100,000

Contact Specialist
Genevieve Janvrin
Head of Photographs, Europe
+44 20 7318 4092


London Auction 3 November 2016