YOUSUF KARSH’S MAGNIFICENT PORTRAIT OF ELEANOR ROOSEVELT, SIGNED BY KARSH AND INSCRIBED BY ROOSEVELT TO HILDEGARD LORETTA SELL.
Karsh’s striking image, perhaps the most beautiful and most iconic photographic portrait of Eleanor Roosevelt, shows the First Lady in 1944 looking noble but approachable against a dark background, smiling and looking off to her left. A pencil – alluding to her impressive work as a journalist and author – is held prominently in her right hand.
In this silver gelatin print, the contrast and clarity are remarkable, with play of light on her hair, eyes, and jewelry giving it an appearance of three-dimensional depth.
Signed beneath the photo by Karsh in pencil (“Y. Karsh / Ottawa”) and inscribed by Roosevelt in ink: “To Hildegard / With good wishes / Eleanor Roosevelt”. With Karsh’s studio stamp on back.
The recipient, Hildegarde Lorettta Sell, known generally as simply “Hildegarde” or “The Incomparable Hildegarde” was an immensely popular cabaret singer in the 1930s and 40s. Eleanor Roosevelt was a fan of Hildegarde’s, notably nicknaming her the "First Lady of the Supper Clubs.”
Washington, D.C. (photo taken); 1944. Silver gelatin print. Very handsomely framed archivally under UV-protecting museum glass. Photo: 9 1/4 x 6 5/8 inches (23.5 x 16.8 cm). Full sheet: 13 1/8 x 10 3/8 inches, now framed to about 11 1/2 x 9 in (sight). Total size with frame: 18 1/2 x 16 in. Tiny closed tear at extreme bottom margin (framed out), otherwise fine.
A STUNNING AND ICONIC PHOTO, INSCRIBED BY ROOSEVELT.
Price: $4,900 .