Lot 92
  • 92

Richard Avedon

120,000 - 180,000 GBP
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  • Richard Avedon
  • 'Avedon/Paris', 1978
  • Portfolio of gelatin silver prints
Portfolio with 11 silver prints, printed 1978. Each signed and numbered 38/75 in pencil and with the portfolio, copyright, and individual title stamps on the reverse. Together with the printed plate list/colophon, within a wrapper as issued, signed and numbered 38/75 in pencil on the front, and the individual wrappers numbered sequentially 1 to 11 in pencil. The prints individually mounted and framed.
Self-published, New York, 1978. With the original linen clamshell box with the photographer's name printed in red.


Acquired from the photographer, c. 1979 - 80


All eleven photographs, printed on Agfa paper, are in generally excellent condition, except as noted below. Some have minor age-appropriate silvering in the dark areas, primarily at the edges. The corners of a few of the prints are lightly bumped. 'Renée, The New Look of Dior, Place de la Concorde, Paris, August 1947' - There is a small crease (approx. 1cm) that appears to break the emulsion near the sitter's hat. This is visible only upon close evaluation. 'Sunny Harnett, Evening dress by Grès, Casino, Le Touquet, August 1954' - There is a crease (approx. 2cm) that appears to break the emulsion in the lower left corner. This is visible only upon close examination. There is minor discolouration, rubbing, and foxing at the extremities of the portfolio case, both inside and out. The wrappers exhibit foxing to various degrees. The heavy paper enclosure that is signed and editioned by Avedon and wrapper number '9.' have undergone conservation, primarily to address foxing.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

Titles included:
Elise Daniels with Street Performers, Suit by Balenciaga, Le Marais, Paris, August 1948
Renée, The New Look of Dior, Place de la Concorde, Paris, August 1949
Dorian Leigh, Coat by Dior, Avenue Montaigne, Paris, August 1949
Carmen (Homage to Munkacsi), Coat by Cardin, Place Françoise Premier, Paris, August 1957
Dorian Leigh, Evening dress by Piguet, Helena Rubinstein apartment, Île St.-Louis, Paris, August 1949
Dorian Leigh, Schiaparelli rhinestones, Pré-Catelan, Paris, August 1949
Sunny Harnett, Evening dress by Grès, Casino, Le Touquet, August 1954
Suzy Parker and Robin Tattersall, Evening dress by Griffe, Folies-Bergère, Paris, August 1957
Elise Daniels, Turban by Paulette, Pré-Catelan, Paris, August 1948
Suzy Parker, Evening dress by Lanvin-Castillo, Café des Beaux Arts, Paris, August 1956
Marlene Dietrich, Turban by Dior, The Ritz, Paris, August 1955 

Published in 1978 to coincide with Avedon’s acclaimed retrospective at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 13 September - 5 November 1978, Avedon/Paris contains the most glamorous images of his early fashion photography. One of the museum’s first exhibitions dedicated to a living photographer, this career defining retrospective featured over 2,000 photographs hung in several galleries, with the first two dedicated to Avedon’s early fashion photography and included all of the works in this portfolio. 

The photographs here are a testament to how post-war fashion photography provided a much needed escapism of glamour, adventure, luxury and pleasure. Quintessentially French in their aesthetic, these fashion photographs show the most famous models of the 1940s and 1950s at leisure in Paris: jumping over puddles, playing roulette, backstage at the Folies Bergère, dressed in the most coveted couture clothing by the celebrated French fashion houses of the day including Dior, Grès and Lanvin-Castillo. All of the models featured were the most recognised and sought after models working in fashion, muses to Avedon throughout his career.

Although Avedon is first and foremost known as a fashion photographer for his work in Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar magazines, he was also extremely prolific and influential in both his directing and contribution to television advertising campaigns right from the start of his career. It was through this field that the present owner of the portfolio met Avedon and acquired it directly from him when he was hired to create a television commercial for Purex ‘Toss ‘n Soft’ fabric softener sheets. Through both his high fashion magazine shoots and advertisements for the biggest consumer companies of the era including Revlon, Colgate and Wonderbra, Avedon was afforded a very lucrative career as a photographer who helped define America’s idea of beauty and style.