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    Sale 2252

    Icons of Glamour and Style: The Constantiner Collection

    16 - 17 December 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 51

    BERT STERN (B. 1929)

    Marilyn Monroe, 'The Last Sitting', 1962, an exhibition presented at seventh 'Mois de la Photo à Paris', 1992

    Price Realised  


    BERT STERN (B. 1929)
    Marilyn Monroe, 'The Last Sitting', 1962, an exhibition presented at seventh 'Mois de la Photo à Paris', 1992
    36 gelatin silver prints (8 hand colored, 4 hand tinted, 9 platinum-toned) and 23 chromogenic prints, printed 1991
    each signed, dated and numbered '1/25', '1/36' or '1/50' in wax pencil (on the recto) or (in the margin); each with exhibition label affixed (on the frame backing)
    varying sizes from 39 x 59½in. (99 x 151.1cm.) to 18½ x 18 5/8in. (47 x 47.3cm.) (59)

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    Sotheby's, New York, April 23, 1994, lot 454.

    Pre-Lot Text

    Bert Stern took the revealing last magazine pictures of her. News of her death came just as 15 September Vogue was going to print... and Vogue said, "The waste seems almost unbearable if out of her death comes nothing of insight into her special problems: no step towards a knowledge that might save, for the living, others as beautiful and tormented."


    American Vogue, September 15, 1962;
    Howell, In Vogue: Six Decades of Fashion, Allen Lane, 1975, p. 214;
    Devlin, Vogue Book of Fashion Photography, Thames and Hudson, 1979, p. 150;
    Fraser, On the Edge: Images from 100 Years of Vogue, Random House, 1992, pp. 128-131;
    Stern, The Complete Last Sitting, Schirmer Art Books, 1992, passim; Angeletti and Oliva, In Vogue: The History of the World's Most Famous Fashion Magazine, Rizzoli, 2006, pp. 174-175.


    Mois de la Photo à Paris, Galerie Atsuro Tayama, Paris, November 1992;
    Marilyn Monroe: Photographs from the Collection of Michaela and Leon Constantiner, Tel Aviv Museum, Israel, May 13 - September 25, 2004;
    I Wanna Be Loved By You: Photographs of Marilyn Monroe from the Leon and Michaela Constantiner Collection, Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York, November 12, 2004 - April 3, 2005, Toledo Museum of Art and Bass Museum of Art.

    Post Lot Text

    The so-called 'Last Sitting' was in fact an extended shoot made in three phases. The encounter between the already world-famous star and the young Bert Stern -- destined unwittingly to make these historic last pictures of her -- was the result of a commission that Stern was able to secure from Vogue. The magazine sponsored his fulfilment of a dream he had nurtured for some years.

    The tone was set from their first meeting. In the seclusion of the Hotel Bel-Air, Monroe relaxed into a long and productive first session. Stern succeeded through this and their subsequent sessions to capture an extraordinary sense of intimacy, grace and vulnerability on the part of his subject. The eight-page Vogue feature was prepared and the presses were about to run when news was received of her tragic death. Stern takes up the story:

    'What was going to happen to the pictures now?

    When I got in early Monday morning, the studio was buzzing. Vogue had already called. They had stopped the presses and were having an emergency meeting. They only had a couple of hours to decide what to do. At first they all agreed that there was no way they could let it run. And then someone said no, the pictures are beautiful. Why don't we just pull the fashion copy and print something special on the first page?

    So they left the section just as it was. They didn't change one part of the layout. The pictures became a memorial -- Vogue's salute to Marilyn....' (The Complete Last Sitting, p. 29)