PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF THE HALSMAN ESTATE
Philippe Halsman first met Marilyn Monroe when she was one of eight unknown starlets he photographed for Life in the fall of 1949. He returned to Hollywood in February 1952 to photograph her again for the magazine, this time for a cover.
Halsman wrote (Sight and Insight, p. 35), 'I drove to the outskirts of Los Angeles where she lived in a cheap two-room apartment. What impressed me in its shabby living room was the obvious striving for self-improvement. I saw a photograph of Eleanora Duse and a multitude of books that I did not expect to find there, like the works of Dostoyevsky, of Freud, the History of Fabian Socialism etc. On the floor were two dumbbells.
I took hundreds of pictures. Finally I asked her to stand in the corner of the room. I was facing her with my camera, the Life reporter and my assistant at my sides. Marilyn was cornered and she flirted with all three of us. And such was her talent that each one of us felt that if only the other two would leave, something incredible would happen. Her sex-appeal was not a put-on - it was her weapon and her defense.'
The photograph was published on the cover of the April 7, 1952 issue of Life. The headline read 'Marilyn Monroe: The Talk of Hollywood' and the inside story reported on her 'sparkling performances in All About Eve and The Asphalt Jungle'. Marilyn had arrived; the cover undoubtedly conferred star status upon her and Twentieth Century Fox adjusted her contract accordingly.
The present lot, a variant of the Life cover image, is arguably even finer. Monroe, shown full-figure, is at her most beautiful, yet also has an air of vulnerability which is less perceptible in the more poised cover version. The photograph is well-travelled; the verso (illustrated) documents its journey across numerous editorial desks before returning to the Halsman Studio.
Christie's is delighted to be able to offer this important, vintage portrait from the Halsman Estate collection on this the centennial year of Philippe Halsman's birth.