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Lee Miller

Lee Miller, by David E. Scherman, 1943 - NPG P1082 - © reserved; collection National Portrait Gallery, London

© reserved; collection National Portrait Gallery, London

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Lee Miller

by David E. Scherman
modern archival-toned gelatin silver print from original negative, 1943
10 in. x 8 in. (254 mm x 204 mm)
Purchased, 2004
Primary Collection
NPG P1082

Sitterback to top

  • Lee Miller (1907-1977), Photographer. Sitter in 13 portraits, Artist of 16 portraits.

Artistback to top

  • David E. Scherman (1916-1997), Photographer and assistant to Lee Miller. Artist of 1 portrait, Sitter in 1 portrait.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • 100 Pioneering Women, p. 110 Read entry

    Lee Miller (1907-77) was an American-born photographer and war correspondent. In the 1920s, following a traumatic childhood, she studied art in New York and in 1927 became a Vogue cover model, after a chance meeting with the magazine’s publisher, Condé Nast. Her passion for photography overtook her modelling career and led her to Paris, where she became the lover, muse and pupil of the Surrealist Man Ray. She also befriended Picasso, who painted her. Back in New York, she opened a portrait studio, then married a wealthy Egyptian (whom she later divorced) and moved to Cairo. From 1939, as a photojournalist, she documented the London Blitz and, attached to the US army in 1942, became Europe’s sole female combat photographer and correspondent. She recorded the liberation of the Dachau and Buchenwald concentration camps, and, famously, was photographed posing naked in Hitler’s bath in 1945. Two years later, in Paris, she married the English artist Roland Penrose. After her death, her son, Antony, found thousands of negatives, prints and contact sheets – a life-affirming record of her extraordinary achievements.

  • Rideal, Liz, Insights: Self-portraits, 2005, p. 39 Read entry

    A woman at ease both in front of the camera and behind it, Lee Miller was well aware of the importance of the reproduced image: she worked for British and American Vogue, both as a model and a photographer, and between 1940 and 1945 she worked as a war photographer and correspondent in France and Germany. Assisted by her colleague and lover David E. Scherman (1916-97), this self-portrait was taken in Portsmouth whilst they were working on the book Wrens in Camera (1945). Miller captures herself in an intimate moment as the off-duty working woman, pyjamas unbuttoned, well-earned drink in hand. In April 1945 she and Scherman were among the first to enter the concentration camp at Dauchau, taking photographs that shocked the world.

Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top

Events of 1943back to top

Current affairs

The War effort continues with women recruited to the Home Guard and Ernie Bevin introducing conscription of miners as coal output continues to flag.
There is panic when a new anti aircraft weapon is heard for the first time in London and 173 people die in the crush to enter an air-raid shelter at Bethnal Green tube station.

Art and science

Barnes Wallis's bouncing bomb is used during Operation Chastise - the Dam busters Raid - to destroy three dams in the Ruhr area of Germany. The raid was considered a success, knocking out hydroelectric power, cutting off the water supply to industry and causing devastation through flooding. The operation also, however, cost the allies many lives, and the bouncing bomb was not used again.

International

The invasion of Sicily is successful thanks to Operation Mincemeat, in which false documents were planted on the body of a dead airman to mislead Germany into thinking that the Allied target was Sardinia. The invasion led to the fall of Mussolini and Italy joining the Allies.
42,000 German civilians are killed in a firestorm in Hamburg caused by the Allied bombing in Operation Gomorrah.

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