• Three Decades with Irving Penn auction at Christies

    Sale 2397

    Three Decades with Irving Penn: Photographs from the Collection of Patricia McCabe

    14 April 2010, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 14

    IRVING PENN (1917-2009)

    Cuzco Children, 1948

    Price Realised  


    IRVING PENN (1917-2009)
    Cuzco Children, 1948
    gelatin silver print, possibly unique, printed no later than 1964
    signed and annotated 'New York' in ink (on the mount); signed, dated 'June 29, 1964', inscribed 'This print is a gift to Patricia McCabe' in ink, Penn/Condé Nast copyright credit reproduction limitation stamps (on the reverse of the mount)
    22½ x 24¾in. (57.5 x 63.4cm.)

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    This is possibly a unique print in this size and predates the platinum edition of by six years.

    Pre-Lot Text

    Two country children, a brother and sister, dressed for a visit to Cuzco. The piano stool tells something of their tiny size.
    Irving Penn


    Penn, Moments Preserved, Simon and Schuster, 1960, pp. 98-99; Penn, Worlds in a Small Room, Grossman, 1974, p. 13; Irving Penn photographs in platinum metals - images 1947-1975, Marlborough Fine Art Ltd, 1977, cat. no. 78; Szarkowski, Irving Penn, The Museum of Modern Art, 1984, pl. 59; Penn, Passage: A Work Record, Alfred A. Knopf Callaway, 1991, p. 61; Westerbeck, ed., Irving Penn: A Career in Photography, Art Institute of Chicago Little, Brown and Co., 1997, cat. no. 37, p. 177; Greenough, Irving Penn: Platinum Prints, National Gallery of Art Yale University Press, 2005, pl. 15

    Post Lot Text

    Irving Penn had chosen to stay on in Peru and spend Christmas 1948 in Cuzco, after a fashion shoot for Vogue in Lima. In this remote mountain town he took over the local photographer's studio and made a set of portraits that initiated a series that was to take him all over the world in the years to come, recording with an anthropologist's curiosity and an artist's acuity the peculiarities in self-presentation of individuals or groups representing numerous distinct cultures. He posed his subjects very simply against a neutral backdrop, with no attempt to conceal the character of this archaic yet timeless studio location; he worked with the soft diffused daylight in which he delighted and that so gently sculpted his subjects - and he defined a standard that was to characterise so much of his work in the decades to come. His tender, emblematic study of these Cuzco children has become one of Mr Penn's best known and best loved images.