Tuesday, January 25, 2005
Most people are surprised when they first see the photograph of Lee Miller taking a bath in Hitler's bathtub. It's an outstanding photo but whats going on here? Who exactly is Lee Miller?
Miller was born in Poughkeepsie New York and went on to become a well-known model for Vogue magazine. Here's some pictures of her and you can see that she was a classic beauty. Among many other firsts, she was the first woman to appear in a feminine hygiene ad.
Not content to be behind the camera, she next entered the world of photography. She lived with and collaborated with the more well-known photographer Man Ray. She entered the world of the Surrealists and was soon one of their Muses. Jean Cocteau was inspired by her and so was Duchamp. Picasso made a painting of her, the odd Portrait of Lee Miller
She became a wartime photographer for Life Magazine. She was the first photographer to document the use of napalm. She was in Europe when the Allies made their advance and entered Hitler's apartment. It is there that she disrobed and took a bath in Hitlers bathtub, photographed by one of her colleagues.
Later, she married the well-known Surrealist and art patron Roland Penrose and settled down in Britain. Her son later wrote a biography of her and has been exhibiting a collection of her works
She had two brothers, younger brother Erik and older brother John. John had independently made a name for himself as a pioneer aviator. He was a test pilot and the first man to fly an autogiro, preceding Amelia Earhart's flight. Here's an article about him in Aviation History magazine
I first heard the name Lee Miller when I was about eight years old. I was at the house of my childhood friend Matt (He and I are still close friends; My parents consider him an extra son) and I noticed black and white photographs of this striking woman on the wall.
"Who is she?" I asked.
"Oh, thats my great-aunt Lee. She's my Grandpa John's sister." He replied
I probably just absently nodded my head.