Lisette Model - Photographs London Friday, May 15, 2009 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Private Collection, USA

  • Literature

    Musee des beaux arts du Canada, Lisette Model, 1990, pl. 49; Editions Léo Scheer, B. Lebon, Lisette Model, 2002, p. 35

  • Catalogue Essay

    Born in Vienna in 1901 to a prosperous family, Lisette Model took up photography in 1933 under the tutelage of her sister Olga Seybert. The great pivotal moment of her career came early on in 1934 when she visited her mother in Nice in the South of France. There she began to take un-posed photographs of the well-to-do, as well as, one suspects, the ne’er-do-well characters that for time-immemorial have flocked to resorts where money and power relaxes. This series, entitled Promenade des Anglais became the work for which she is most well known - and the French Gambler one of her best known images from the formidable group.
    This gambler may appear on first impression to be a mature well- dressed boulevardier, but his painfully sun-burnt skin and lack of poise conjures up notions of a slightly more sinister gambler on the make rather than a prosperous gentleman enjoying his unneeded winnings.  Model has captured this unforgettable rogue in, as writer W. Somerset Maugham said of the French Rivera, “a sunny place  for shady people.” “I select what I am attracted to, I don't hesitate, question [or] analyze," Model commented later in life.  While that may be true for the photographer, as viewers we can make our own character assessments - thanks to Model’s brutal but un-judgmental portrayal.
    She married the French painter Evsa Model in 1937 and soon after immigrated to New York where Harper Bazaar’s influential editor Carmel Snow and art director Alexei Brodovitch frequently assigned her.  But her gritty and unsentimental realist images found a wider following in fine art photography circles of the era. In 1951 the New School of Social Research offered her a teaching position which she held until her death in 1983. Diane Arbus was one of one of her students there in the late 1950s and credited Model with strongly influencing her most important work during the ensuing decade.  


French Gambler, Promenade des Anglais, Nice, 7 août

Gelatin silver print, printed 1977.
49.5 x 38.7 cm. (19 1/2 x 15 1/4 in).
Signed and numbered 46/75 in pencil with copyright credit stamp on the verso.

£8,000 - 12,000 Ω


16 May 2009, 3pm