Irving Penn and Picasso Headline 20th Century Sale


Best known as both a fashion photographer for the likes of Vogue and a still life photographer, Irving Penn (1917-2009) is one of the most sought-after American artists of recent times.

He exhibited widely and his work appears in many public as well as private collections, notably the Smithsonian American Art Museum. He believed that “a good photograph is one that communicates the fact, touches the heart, and leaves the viewer a changed person for having seen it; it is in one word, effective”.

Penn’s ground-breaking work in still life photography, creating often stark and beautiful images out of the relatively ordinary, is redolent of some of the best examples of the pioneering photographers of the 19th century.

This is amply illustrated by ‘Cocoa Dress (Balenciaga), Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn, Paris, platinum-palladium print, flush mounted to aluminium, signed, titled, dated and numbered 12 of an edition of 50 dated 1950 and printed in 1970 and will be sold by Sworders. Lisa was married to Penn from 1950-1992, born Lisa Birgitta Bernstone in 1911, she was considered the first Swedish supermodel.

This is due to be sold Tuesday 2 February at the Decorative Art & Design Sale with an estimate of £12,000-£15,000.

Also consigned to the Stansted Mountfitchet saleroom, is a Madoura terracotta pitcher 'Yan barbu' (AR 513) by Pablo Picasso (1881-1973). One of 300 made and with an estimate of £1,500-£2,500, a similar one was sold in June 2015 at Christie’s for £3,750.


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