World War II photojournalist and Vogue fashion model’s 60,000 images are brought back to life
By Eleanor McGillie
SHE was the renowned World War II photojournalist who once told a newspaper vendor that she would rather take a picture than be one.
Lee Miller, a Vogue fashion model and close friend of Picasso, was renowned for being in charge of her own destiny by taking control of her own decisions.
She has been described in the New York Times as being ‘the most perceptive photographer of the 20th Century’.
Lee Miller was born in 1907 in New York. Her father was of German descent and her mother was of Canadian, Scottish and Irish descent. She was a very successful fashion model during the 1920s in New York before travelling to Paris in 1929 where she built a reputation as an exquisite fashion and fine art photographer. It was here she developed a relationship with the surrealist artist and photographer, Man Ray.
However, during World War Two, she was living in Hampstead in London with Roland Penrose. She was appointed the official war photographer for Vogue and covered major historical events namely the London Blitz, the liberation of Paris and covered stories about the concentration camps in Dachau and Buchenwald. Miller then received accreditation into the US Army as a war correspondent for Conde Nast Publications from December 1942. She joined forces with an American photographer and LIFE correspondent, David Scherman. One photograph taken by Scherman depicts Miller in Adolf Hitler’s bathtub in his Munich apartment. This is said to be one of the most iconic images of their partnership.
It was during this era she photographed dying children in a Vienna Hospital, peasant life in post-war Hungary and also the execution of Prime Minister Laszlo Bardossy.
Lee Miller used her skills as a photographer to capture the spirit of 20th Century life. But by the early 1950s she stopped taking photographs and spent her time travelling around the English countryside doing what she enjoyed most – cooking for her family. In 1947 she married Roland Penrose and they had a son, Antony Penrose.
Lee Miller died in 1977 from cancer at Farley Farm House in Chiddingly, East Sussex aged 70. She was cremated and her ashes were spread through her herb garden at the farm house.
However, a few years ago her son Antony Penrose discovered her treasure trove of over 60,000 images hidden in an attic. For years he believed all of her work had been lost. It was only when the images were found that Antony Penrose decided his mother’s work was to be conserved which led to the formation of The Lee Miller Archives.
But, in order to be able to archive the images, Belfast based Digital Asset Management company, Aetopia, was recruited to develop a software programme which is now being employed by the privately run archive, to showcase the thousands of seen and unseen images captured by Lee Miller.
Speaking about the launch of www.leemiller.co.uk, where thousands of images are now displayed, Lee Miller’s son Antony said: “This is the exciting moment when we are able to realise our long-term objective to share thousands of Lee’s images, many never seen before.”
Aidan McGrath, chief executive of Aetopia said: “This was a wonderful project for us to work on. We are proud to have made a significant contribution which allows people all over the world to access such fascinating photographs, taken by such a magnificent woman. This software platform allows her legacy to live on. It’s amazing to think that such a collection of images was found in an attic.”
To contact Aetopia ring 028 9099 8767 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.aetopia.com or to contact the Lee Miller Archives for further photograph requests please contact 01825 872 691.
NOTES TO EDITOR:
- Aetopia specialises in building functionally rich, scalable Digital Asset Management solutions for enterprise clients primarily in the newspaper, photo agency and archiving sectors. Key clients include some of the largest publishing companies in Europe as well as major photographic agencies. In 2010, 2011 and 2012, Aetopia was ranked by Deloitte Fast 50 as one of the fastest growing technology companies in Ireland.
- Copyright Stipulation: Attached are two versions of the one image depicting Picasso with Antony Penrose. One image has a Watermark, the other does not. All media reproducing the picture online must use the picture with the Watermark. All printed media can use the version without the Watermark. All media are requested not to retain the image once it has been used. This credit line must accompany the image and should read as follows: © Lee Miller Archives, England 2013. All rights reserved.
- For media enquiries contact Eleanor McGillie of MGMPR Ltd (McGillie Media & PR Ltd) on 028 3756 9569 | 07709805379 | Digital Asset Management PR | Public Relations Northern Ireland | Public Relations UK | Brand Journalism Northern Ireland | Brand Journalism UK | Brand Journalism Experts | Lee Miller | Antony Penrose | Lee Miller Archives | Technology PR Northern Ireland