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Irving Penn (American, 1917–2009)
LOT ID: 72531
Sophia Loren, New York, 1959

Platinum Print, Platinum Palladium print, mounted on aluminum
25 х 22 in. (63.5 x 55.88 cm.)
Signed, titled and dated in ink on verso. Stamped and editioned # 1/6 on verso.
Print/Casting Year 1970
Edition 1/6
Lot description
This is # 1 of an edition of only 6 prints of this captivating portrait of Sophia Loren that were made in platinum. It is the first time a platinum print of this image has ever been offered at auction. The minimal composition creates an intense engagement between the subject and the viewer: while Sophia Loren looks coyly off to the side, the viewer is transfixed by her exotic almond eyes, heavily arched brow, full parted lips and long neck, all brought into focus by the dark halo of her hat. Penn’s pared-down composition creates a timeless, alluring portrait of one of the most beautiful women of the 20th century, and exemplifies his stature as one of the greatest portrait photographers of all time. This portrait has been shown in several major Irving Penn retrospectives around the world.

Photographer Irving Penn (American, 1917–2009) is celebrated for his compelling portraits, scenes, and still lifes, in genres ranging from fashion to travel photography. Born in Plainfield, New Jersey, Penn studied painting and design at the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art, working alongside Harper’s Bazaar art director Alexey Brodovitch during his summers as a student. He later worked as a graphic designer in New York before being hired to shoot for Vogue magazine, under influential art director Alexander Liberman. Penn began designing the covers and photographing models for the magazine, establishing his reputation as an influential fashion photographer in images with streamlined, minimalist compositions and dramatic lighting. Penn also created intimate portraits of celebrities, often encouraging his subjects to sit for him for many hours at a time in order to take truly personal, individualized portraits. He traveled to New Guinea, Morocco, Peru, and other countries around the world to capture images of families and workers in elegant, detailed ethnographic photos. In the 1960s, he began working with platinum prints, a laborious, turn of the century method of developing photographs; he later began redeveloping many of his earlier works using the process, bringing the technique back into popularity. Towards the end of his career, Penn’s work expanded to include arresting still lifes, such as closely cropped photographs of cigarette butts and bones. He died in 2009, at 92 years old, leaving behind a legacy of graceful, incisive works, spanning both the commercial and the Fine Art worlds. Penn has been honored with the Hasselblad Award in Photography, and his work has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C., the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, and the Tate Modern in London.
Sophia Loren, New York by Irving Penn
  • Sophia Loren, New York by Irving Penn
  • Sophia Loren, New York by Irving Penn
  • Sophia Loren, New York by Irving Penn
  • Sophia Loren, New York by Irving Penn
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Sales Results for Comparable Works

  • Irving Penn

    Girl Drinking (Mary-Jane Russell)
    platinum-palladium print
    (H 20.4, W 19.4) in.
    (51.7 x 49.2) cm.
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    Wednesday, May 16, 2012
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  • Irving Penn

    Black and white Vogue cover
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    Thursday, April 5, 2012
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  • Irving Penn

    Woman with roses on her arm, Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn
    platinum palladium print, mntd
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  • Irving Penn

    Woman in Moroccan palace (Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn)
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    (H 19.5, W 19.5) in.
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    Saturday, November 12, 2011
    Christie's Paris
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  • Irving Penn

    Harlequin dress (Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn)
    platinum-palladium print mntd on aluminum
    (H 19.9, W 20.1) in.
    (50.5 x 51) cm.
    Ed. 28/30
    Sold for: US$364,211
    Saturday, November 12, 2011
    Christie's Paris
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  • Irving Penn

    Girl behind bottle
    platinum-palladium print, mntd
    (H 17.8, W 19.0) in.
    (45.1 x 48.3) cm.
    Ed. 17/33
    Sold for: US$110,500
    Wednesday, October 5, 2011
    Sotheby's New York
    Lot 00135
  • Irving Penn

    Jean Patchett, New York (cover for Vogue)
    platinum palladium print
    (H 17.8, W 15.2) in.
    (45.1 x 38.7) cm.
    Ed. 27/34
    Sold for: US$374,500
    Tuesday, October 4, 2011
    Phillips de Pury & Company New York
    Lot 00032
  • Irving Penn

    Harlequin dress, Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn
    platinum palladium print, mntd
    (H 20.8, W 19) in.
    (52.7 x 48.3) cm.
    Ed. 27/30
    Sold for: US$131,450
    Monday, May 2, 2011
    Heritage Auctions New York
    Lot 74083
  • Irving Penn

    Mermaid dress (Rochas), Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn, Vogue
    platinum-palladium print, mntd on aluminum
    (H 19.6, W 19.6) in.
    (49.8 x 49.8) cm.
    Ed. 10/25
    Sold for: US$134,500
    Friday, April 8, 2011
    Christie's New York
    Lot 00591
  • Irving Penn

    Balenciaga mantle coat (Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn), Paris
    platinum-palladium print, mntd on aluminum
    (H 22.0, W 17.6) in.
    (55.9 x 44.8) cm.
    Ed. 5/8
    Sold for: US$80,500
    Thursday, April 7, 2011
    Christie's New York
    Lot 00072
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