Avedon staged this photograph at the Cirque d’Hiver (‘Winter Circus’), a performance venue designed by architect Jacques Ignace Hittorff and unveiled by Emperor Napoleon III in 1852 in Paris.
Designed as an indoor colosseum, the Cirque d’Hiver is the oldest extant circus building. The 20-sided structure in the shape of an oval polygon features a domed roof without a central pole so that there are no obstructed views.
Its 19th century counterpart, the Cirque d’Été (Summer Circus), was located each May through October in a tent erected just off of the Champs-Élysées.
In the 1880s and ‘90s, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec frequently attended rehearsals and performances at the Cirque d’Hiver, which he subsequently documented in his artworks.
The building could originally hold 4,000 people, but now can accommodate about half that amount in accordance with contemporary fire codes.
In 1995, French designer Thierry Mugler paid homage to Avedon when he presented a fashion show at the Cirque d’Hiver in celebration of his 20th anniversary of his business. Naomi Campbell, James Brown, and Tippi Hedren participated in the festivities.
Born Dorothy Virginia Margaret Juba in Queens, New York in 1927, the model Dovima took the first two letters of each part of her name to form her professional moniker. She was the first supermodel to go by a single name.
The year before Avedon took this photograph, Dior had introduced the ‘H’ silhouette, defined by a narrow, columnar fit in contrast to wide-skirted ‘New Look’ popular in the late 1940s.
Dior credited Avedon’s 1954 photograph of Signora Gianni Agnelli, which appeared in the April 1954 issue of Harper’s Bazaar, as his inspiration for the refined silhouette epitomized by this gown.
Sir Carol Reed was filming the movie Trapeze in Technicolor at the Cirque d’Hiver at the same time that Avedon orchestrated this photograph. When Avedon spied the animals on set for the film, he recounted: ‘I saw the elephants under an enormous skylight and in a second I knew. I then had to find the right dress and I knew there was a potential here for a kind of dream image.’ (quoted in American Masters, 1995)
In the 1950s, Paris was Avedon’s favorite location to photograph. His fascination with the City of Light was captured in 1956 when the film Funny Face, loosely based on Avedon’s life, went into production.
This image originally appeared in the 14-page story on Paris fashions published in the September 1955 issue of Harper’s Bazaar, where Avedon was a staff photographer from 1946 to 1965.
This dress was the first design for the House of Dior by the then 19-year-old Yves Saint Laurent, whom Dior had personally chosen to be his successor.
In 1957 Christian Dior died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 52, just 2 years after Avedon shot this iconic photograph. Dior had redefined post-war fashion with his ‘New Look’ and helped to reestablish Paris as the center of the fashion world. More than any other Avedon image featuring Dior couture, Dovima with Elephants is the quintessential example of their fruitful collaboration.
Avedon chose this particular dress for this shoot not only because it embodied Dior’s new silhouette, but for the beautiful, rhyming lines of the black dress, the sinuous white sash, and the arched shapes of the elephants’ legs and trunks.
Alfred Stieglitz's Camera Work, one of the key documents of 20th-century photography, is rare as a complete set. Published from 1903 to 1917, this sumptuous quarterly showcased the finest examples of modern art, photography, and art criticism. Photogravures by Edward Steichen, Paul Strand, Gertrude Käsebier, Heinrich Kühn, Anne Brigman, Clarence White, and many others are included within the 50 volumes.
In Focus: Diane Arbus
In anticipation of Diane Arbus’ centennial in 2023, this selection of photographs celebrates her inimitable vision.
From Germaine Krull’s spatially adventurous views of the Eiffel Tower to Candida Höfer’s hyper-detailed interior of the Musée du Louvre, these photographers capture the City of Light in all its glory.
Photographs from the Estate of Alice Rose George
Sotheby’s is honored to present works from the collection of Alice Rose George (1944-2020), curator, writer, educator, and indefatigable champion of photography for more than 50 years. Beginning in the late 1960s, she made a name for herself as the Photography Editor for Time, Geo, Fortune, Details, and Granta magazines, where she worked directly with artists such as Peter Hujar (see Lot 1), Mitch Epstein (see Lot 83), and Philip-Lorca diCorcia (see Lot 72 ). She also consulted for Howard Stein, chairman and CEO of Dreyfus Corporation, to build one of the most celebrated private collections of photographs over a 15-year period. In the aftermath of the September 11th attacks, she collaborated with photographer Gilles Peress (see Lot 82) on the grassroots exhibition Here is New York: A Democracy of Photographs.
Bodies in Motion
Property from the Collection of John and Lou Glasse
Professor John Glasse (1922 - 2014) was a prolific photographs collector who sought out classic images by Imogen Cunningham, Alfred Stieglitz, Ansel Adams, Frederick Sommer, and Paul Strand, whose 1977 exhibition he curated at Vassar College. An accomplished photographer in his own right, Glasse’s personal collection reflects his deep appreciation for tonally rich prints that evince darkroom mastery.