Richard Avedon - Photographs London Wednesday, May 18, 2011 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Private Collection, Europe

  • Literature

    Harpers Bazaar, Beauties of Our Time, April 1954 (variant); T. Capote, Richard Avedon: Observations, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1959, p. 27; Avedon Photographs 1947–1977, New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1978, cover and p. 161; M. Shanahan, ed., Richard Avedon: Evidence 1944–1994, New York: Random House, 1994, pp. 14 and 160; A. Hollander, Richard Avedon: Woman in the Mirror, New York: Abrams, 2005, p. 79

  • Catalogue Essay

    Marella Agnelli is the half-American, half-Neapolitan princess who has long reigned as one of the charter members of what famed fashion editor Diana Vreeland called ‘the Beautiful People’. Richard Avedon’s stellar portrait of this aristocratic wife of late Fiat chairman Gianni Agnelli was taken at the photographer’s New York studio in 1953. It first appeared in the April 1954 issue of Harper’s Bazaar in a story entitled ‘Beauties of Our Time’. The young Avedon worked closely with the Bazaar’s influential art director Alexey Brodovitch who allowed his image to be flopped for publication with the portrait reproduced full-bleed on the left-hand page and the text at right, mirroring the sinuous curves of Agnelli’s head and body which Avedon had elongated manually in the dark room. Agnelli was one of writer Truman Capote’s famous ‘swans’ – well-married, international, best-dressed ladies who also included Mrs. William S. (‘Babe’) Paley and Mrs. Winston (‘CZ’) Guest. Capote once commented that if Agnelli and Paley “were both in a Tiffany’s window, Marella would be more expensive”.

  • Artist Biography

    Richard Avedon

    American • 1923 - 2004

    From the inception of Richard Avedon's career, first at Harper's Bazaar and later at Vogue, Avedon challenged the norms for editorial photography. His fashion work gained recognition for its seemingly effortless and bursting energy, while his portraits were celebrated for their succinct eloquence. "I am always stimulated by people," Avedon has said, "almost never by ideas." 

    Indeed, as seen in his portraits — whether of famed movie stars or everyday people — the challenge for Avedon was conveying the essence of his subjects. His iconic images were usually taken on an 8 x 10 inch camera in his studio with a plain white background and strobe lighting, creating his signature minimalist style. Avedon viewed the making and production of photographs as a performance similar to literature and drama, creating portraits that are simultaneously intensely clear, yet deeply mysterious.

    View More Works


Marella Agnelli, New York Studio, December

Gelatin silver print, printed 1981.
59.7 x 47.3 cm (23 1/2 x 18 5/8 in).
Signed, numbered in ink, copyright credit reproduction limitation and edition stamps on the reverse of the linen flush-mount. One from an edition of 50.

£30,000 - 40,000 

Sold for £49,250


19 May 2011