Lot 57
  • 57

RICHARD AVEDON | Dovima with Elephants, Evening Dress by Dior, Cirque d'hiver, Paris, 1955

600,000 - 900,000 EUR
bidding is closed


  • Richard Avedon
  • Dovima with Elephants, Evening Dress by Dior, Cirque d'hiver, Paris, 1955
  • 49 x 39 ¼ in.; 124,5 x 100 cm
silver print, printed circa 1962 and mounted to Masonitesigned on a label "Smithsonian Institution Washington, D.C., November - December, 1962" and dedicated From my home to yours, Dick 4 18 80 on the reverse of the mountframed following the artist instruction


Gift of the photographer


Harper's Bazaar, September 1955, p. 215
Avedon & Brodkey, Avedon Photographs, 1947-1977, back cover and pl. 159
Avedon, Woman in the Mirror, p. 36
Fraenkel Gallery, Richard Avedon: Made in France, n.p.
Harry N. Abrams, Inc., Avedon Fashion: 1944-2000, p. 137
Random House, Evidence, 1944-1994: Richard Avedon, p. 53
Bailey & Harrison, Shots of Style: Great Fashion Portraits, cat. no. 7
Davis, An American Century of Photography, From Dry-Plate to Digital: The Hallmark Photographic Collection, pl. 368
Gee, Photography of the Fifties: An American Perspective, p. 84
Hall-Duncan, The History of Fashion Photography, p. 137 
Harrison, Appearances: Fashion Photography since 1945, p. 73
High Museum of Art, Chorus of Light: Photographs from the Sir Elton John Collection, p. 189
J. Paul Getty Museum, Icons of Style: A Century of Fashion Photography, pl. 111
Mazzola, 125 Great Moments of Harper's Bazaar, pl.3
Taschen, 20th Century Photography: Museum Ludwig Cologne, p. 29
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Model as Muse: Embodying Fashion, p. 50

Catalogue Note

Considered as one of the most important fashion photographs in the history of photography, the image appeared for the first time in the Harper's Bazaar magazine in September 1955. The print offered here is dated 1962 and is historical for many reasons. First of all, the print was made from his first original negative before it was retouched. Secondly, it was produced for the very first exhibition of Richard Avedon, at the Smithsonian Museum of American Art. Avedon made only two prints at this occasion, the second print being in the collection of the Smithsonian.
The reverse also has an inscription by the photographer "From my home to yours" showing the intimate relationship that the photographer had with this particular print which was hang at his studio.In 1955, the young Richard Avedon was sent to Paris by Carmel Snow, the Editor-in-Chief of Harper's Bazaar, to photograph the fall couture collections. A series of 15 photographs by the young photographer were selected to illustrate 'Carmel Snow's Paris Report,' published in the magazine's September 1955 issue (pp. 204-17). The most famous photograph from this series is Dovima with Elephants, which received a full page illustration.
Visible in the postures and the images of Harper's Bazaar at the time, the elegance is in the lithe figure and the drawn silhouettes combined with movement in a very casual and playful everyday atmosphere. This contributes in giving the image of a relaxed and confident Parisienne in the streets of postwar Paris.
In order to embody the Parisian lady, Avedon chose the model nicknamed Dovima (Dorothy Virginia Margaret Juba), who represented perfectly the refinement and the preciseness he was looking for. He later would say that she was "the most remarkable and unconventional beauty of her time". She was also at the time one of the highest paid models of her period and posed for many notable photographers, including Irving Penn, Horst P. Horst, and Erwin Blumenfeld.

In the year 1955, Carol Reed was in the middle of the film shooting of "Trapeze" featuring Burt Lancaster, Tony Curtis and Gina Lollobrigida at the Cirque d'Hiver. It is this location that Avedon chose to pose Dovima accompanied by the elephants. As ever, the photographer knew exactly what he wanted "I saw the elephants under an enormous skylight and in a second I knew that I then had to find the right dress, and I knew that there was the potential here for a kind of dream image."
This photograph is also important in the history of fashion since the evening dress worn by Dovima is one of the very first realizations of the young nineteen-year-old Yves Saint Laurent who was the new assistant of Christian Dior.

© The Richard Avedon Foundation

© Photograph by Adrian Panaro © 1977

© Sam Shaw Inc., licensed by Shaw Family Archives, Ltd