Item #2653 Nursing Mother: Photograph Signed [Tasha Tudor and Child]. NELL DORR.
Nursing Mother: Photograph Signed [Tasha Tudor and Child]

Nursing Mother: Photograph Signed [Tasha Tudor and Child]


Wonder and magic are themes that American photographer Nell Dorr (1893 - 1988) explored throughout her life. She believed that terror and misery were already abundantly documented in American culture and thus committed herself to eliciting beauty. She had learned photography as a child (her father ran a successful photography studio) and began exhibiting her work professionally in order to support her young family after she divorced her first husband. Dorr famously looked beyond collicky infants and overwhelmed mothers, opting to evoke a dreamy atmosphere of calm, confident mothers and their cherubic children. 

Taken around 1940 the Nursing Mother photographs are a collaboration between Dorr and her good friend, Tasha Tudor, one of America’s most beloved author-illustrators of children’s literature. Nestled against a backdrop of home-spun lace, a young Tudor in this photo cradles her nursing infant. When one of her own daughters died in 1954, Dorr published the Nursing Mother photographs in an elegiac book called Mother and Child, which would become her best-known work.

A year later, in 1955, she contributed a version of Nursing Mother to Edward Steichen’s famed Family of Man Exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art. Conceived as a declaration of global solidarity in the decade following World War II, Family of Man traveled the world for 8 years and eventually over 8 million visitors viewed the exhibition.

Throughout her life Dorr continued to plumb the relationship between mother and child through experimental sound film, photo murals, and photography.

Provenance: Dorr gifted this signed photograph to Arthur Klein, who along with his wife Luce had pioneered the field of spoken art and recorded literature. A line in her presentation letter to Klein (a copy of which is included with the photo) elucidates Dorr’s inspiring body of work: spring is coming into bud and the old magic has lost none of its wonders. Acquired directly from the Klein family.

Size: photo: approx. 7.5 x 9.5. Framed = 13x16.

Silver gelatin photograph. Taken c.1940, printed later. Signed by Dorr in full “Nell Dorr” in marker on the bottom left of the photo. Fine condition. Photographs signed by Dorr are rare.

Price: $4,500 .

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