Photographed by Man Ray, Paris ca. 1930 [Source: NYT]
Lee Miller is one of the most fascinating women in history, yet one of the most unknown among my generation. Her boldness, bravery and brains almost distract you from her incredible beauty... I said almost!
Lee's first experience with cameras came at an early age, as a fashion model in New York City during the 1920's. Even though she was one of the most sought after models, her ambition was truly behind the camera.
She moved to Paris, apprenticed with Man Ray,became his muse and took some very famous shots that were accredited to him. Amazing! She bounced back to New York, where she met and married an Egyptian business man before moving together to Cairo... never a dull moment.
But it was really in 1937, when she returned to Europe, that her legacy would really begin. Lee fell in love with surrealist painter, Roland Penrose, and was living in England while World War II was raging around her. Rather than giving into her family's pleas for a return to America, she stayed and became a photojournalist capturing the war for Vogue.
Lee Miller photographed women in fire masks in wartime London in 1944. [Source: Telegraph/Lee Miller Archives]
Her photos are haunting, and reflect a feminine sensibility to the violence. In my opinion, her most powerful photo is an image of a Nazi Lieutenant's daughter who committed suicide by drinking poison as allied troops were closing in. Definitely click on the link to see it for yourself...
Here she is posing in Hitler's bathtub... can you even imagine? Thinking about it gives me the chills.
After the war, she battled post-traumatic stress syndrome, returned to England and enveloped herself in the artistic community. I love her story, her great talent, and her passion. She is a true American Beauty.