• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 7434


    13 November 2007, London, King Street

  • Lot 24

    IRVING PENN (b.1917)

    Woman with Roses on Her Arm (Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn in Lafaurie Dress), Paris, 1950

    Price Realised  


    IRVING PENN (b.1917)
    Woman with Roses on Her Arm (Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn in Lafaurie Dress), Paris, 1950
    platinum-palladium print, printed July 1979
    signed, titled, dated twice and numbered '13/40', '763' in pencil, 'Penn/Condé Nast' copyright credit reproduction limitation and edition stamps on reverse of aluminium flush-mount
    21½ x 14½in. (54.6 x 36.9cm.)

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    The photographer has signed and annotated the reverse of mount stating, 'In addition to 40 numbered prints of this image in platinum metals, unnumbered, but signed, silver prints not exceeding a total of 25 may exist.'

    This image has become one of the most celebrated in Penn's oeuvre, achieving a deserved status as the quintessence of high fashion refinement expressed with understated visual sophistication and elegance. The picture is from a comprehensive record of the winter Paris couture collections of 1950 that was notably published over two issues of French Vogue in September and October of that year, devoted respectively to 'Le Jour' and 'Le Soir' -- clothes for day and for evening.

    Fashion editor Bettina Ballard has described how 'That season we took a big daylight studio up five exceptionally long flights of stairs, with no telephone, no water.' They worked under pressure, 'practically with stop watch in hand,' yet the sessions resulted in 'some of the strongest fashion pictures [Penn] ever took' (In my Fashion, Secker & Warburg, 1960, p.219).


    With Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York;
    acquired by present owner, 1992.

    Pre-Lot Text


    We found a discarded theatre curtain for a backdrop. As it turned out, 1950 was the only year we were able to have couture clothes during daylight hours at the height of the collections. Clothes were hurried to the studio and back to the salons by cyclists.



    French Vogue, September 1950, p.85 (figs.1-2); US Vogue, 15 September 1950; Szarkowski, Irving Penn, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1984, pl.54; Penn, Passage, Jonathan Cape, 1991, p.85; Seidner (ed.), Lisa Fonssagrives: Three Decades of Classic Fashion Photography, Thames & Hudson, 1996, p.131; this print is reproduced in Stourdzé, Regard Captif: Collection Ordóñez-Falcón, Léo Scheer, 2002, p.132; also in Miradas en B&N: Colección Ordóñez-Falcón de Fotografía, 2004, p.159; Greenough, Irving Penn Platinum Prints, National Gallery of Art, Washington/Yale University, 2005, pl.20 & frontispiece.


    Valencia, Spain, Institute Valencia d'Art Modern, La Colección Ordóñez-Falcón de Fotografía, 16 October - 16 February 1997; Brussels, Belgium, Le Botanique, La Collection Ordóñez-Falcón: Une Passion Partagée, 13 February - 18 April 2004.