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Collection

George von Hoyningen-Huene

(Russia, France, United States of America 1900 – 1968)

Title
Lillian Fischer fashion editor Vogue
Year
1928
Media category
Photograph
Materials used
gelatin silver photograph, vintage
Dimensions

24.4 x 17.9 cm image

Signature & date
Not signed. Dated upper verso, pencil "...1928".
Credit
Gift of Edron Pty Ltd - 1996 through the auspices of Alistair McAlpine
Accession number
809.1996
Location
Not on display
Further information

‘I would plan backgrounds and introduce various props; then in the middle of a sitting I would discover that they hindered me, and I would instantly discard them, no matter how much I had planned the overall effect; and once I had freed myself of all sentimental contraptions, I would return to the simplicity and calm of unencumbered pose and concentrate on the mood and attitude of the model.’ George Von Hoyningen-Huene nd 1

Taken at the beginning of his influential career, George Von Hoyningen-Huene’s portrait of Lillian Fischer epitomises the sophisticated elegance of 1930s fashion photography. The quiet observation of the pearly texture of skin, the lustre of satin, and the gloss of hair against a halo of subtle backlighting creates a vision of classic beauty. Born into an aristocratic Russian family, Hoyningen-Huene fled to London after the revolution. He studied with the cubist painter André Lhote in Paris in the early 1920s, and was hired as a fashion illustrator by French ‘Vogue’ in 1925. After stints in New York for ‘Vogue’ and ‘Harper’s Bazaar’, he established himself in Hollywood in 1946, where his publicity shots of film-star glamour were highly sought after.

Hoyningen-Huene’s style, in which the line of a dress or the pose of the model is rendered with exquisite refinement and simplicity, has been called ‘the quintessence of early Thirties functional elegance’.2 Although he was an admirer of Baron de Meyer’s atmospheric lighting, it was Edward Steichen’s modernism that had the greatest influence on Hoyningen-Huene. The sharpness and clarity of Fischer’s portrait are indebted to Steichen, as is its strong lighting and use of shadows. Fischer’s pose and averted gaze is characteristic of Hoyningen-Huene’s work, in which poised, haughty women coolly present their beauty for the contemplation of others. Fischer is transformed by light – radiating an almost divine perfection in an effect that was unequalled by any other photographer at the time.

1.Ewing W A 1986, ‘The photographic art of Hoyningen-Huene’, Thames & Hudson, London p 102
2. ibid p 99

© Art Gallery of New South Wales Photography Collection Handbook, 2007

Bibliography (2)

Robyn Daw (Curator), Architects of Glamour + Masters of Style: Excerpts from a Century of Fashion Photography, 2003. no catalogue numbers

Nicola Teffer, Photography: Art Gallery of New South Wales Collection, 'Fashion and celebrity', pg.169-187, Sydney, 2007, 177 (illus.).

Exhibition history (1)

Architects of Glamour + Masters of Style: excepts from a century of fashion photography, Queensland University of Technology Art Museum, Brisbane, 27 Jun 2003–07 Sep 2003