1908 - 1997
PBY BLISTER GUNNER, RESCUE AT RABAUL
signed and editioned 2/5 in pencil by the Executor of the Horace Bristol Estate and Trust, and with the Horace and Masako Bristol Estate stamps on the reverse
gelatin silver print
17⅝ x 17¼ in.; 44.8 x 43.8 cm
1944, printed in 2018, this work is number 2 from an edition of 5.
This gelatin silver print is in generally excellent condition. When examined in raking light, the following are visibile: a few soft creases in the image and margins; and a tiny deposit of original retouching at the left edge. There is a small area of yellowing at the edge of the upper margin. The margin corners are softly bumped.
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.
NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING CONDITION OF A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE PRINTED IN THE CATALOGUE.
Horace Bristol’s photograph of a nude World War II Marine manning a machine gun in the 'blister,' the transparent dome on the fuselage of an airplane, has been widely reproduced and viewed as a symbol of bravery, loyalty, and erotic masculinity. In 2002, speaking with a writer for B&W Magazine, Bristol recounted capturing his iconic image of a Marine shot down in Japanese-held Rabaul Harbor, in present-day Papua New Guinea:
'…we got a call to pick up an airman who was down in the Bay. The Japanese were shooting at him from the island, and when they saw us they started shooting at us. The man who was shot down was temporarily blinded, so one of our crew stripped off his clothes and jumped in to bring him aboard. He couldn’t have swum very well wearing his boots and clothes. As soon as we could, we took off. We weren’t waiting around for anybody to put on formal clothes. We were being shot at and wanted to get the hell out of there. The naked man got back into his position at his gun in the blister of the plane.'