Item #2755 Photograph Signed and Inscribed. MARIE CURIE.
Photograph Signed and Inscribed
Photograph Signed and Inscribed

Photograph Signed and Inscribed

EXCEEDINGLY SCARCE PHOTOGRAPH SIGNED AND INSCRIBED BY MARIE CURIE: “To Mrs. Russell Tyson / with my friendship / M. Curie”. This photograph by Henri Manuel, c.1920, is the definitive portrait of Curie.

The story of Marie Curie is a story of firsts. By the time this photograph was taken (c.1920), the 53-year-old Curie was already the first woman to win a Nobel Prize (Physics, 1903), the first person to win two Nobel Prizes (Chemistry, 1911), the first (and only) person to win a Nobel Prize in two scientific fields, and the first professor at the University of Paris (1906).

The year 1920 also marked the 25th anniversary of her discovery of radium and she was at the height of her international fame and regard. The French government awarded her a stipend for her work, and in 1921 she embarked on a tour of the United States (where President Warren G. Harding received her at the White House) to raise funds for further research on radium. It is no surprise, therefore, that at this time she chose to have a formal portrait taken by Henri Manuel. Manuel and his brother Gaston operated the largest photographic studio in Paris in the first half of the twentieth century, producing elegant formal portraits of countless celebrities, artists, and scientists of the day. Many of the iconic portraits we have of the public figures of the era are Manuel portraits.

The recipient, Mrs. Russell Tyson, née Sarah Merry Bradley (1868-1926) was an American socialite and the second president of the Woman’s National Farm and Garden Association (the Sarah Bradley Tyson Memorial Fellowship, established in 1928, is still awarded by the association in her honor). Her husband, Russell Tyson, was a noted art collector – much of his collection was given to the Art Institute of Chicago, where he was a trustee (one of the Institute’s galleries was named in his honor). It is likely Curie met the Tyson-Bradley’s on her 1921 trip to the United States.

Silver gelatin photograph, signed and inscribed in ink by Curie on matte below image. With Manuel's studio signature stamp below image on bottom right. Image size = approx. 16 x22 cm (6.25 x 8.75 in.); framed to an overall size of 29 x 36 cm (11.5 x 14.5 in.). Very minor silvering evident around edges; overall in outstanding condition.

Signed portraits of Marie Curie are famously rare: We are aware of only two other signed portraits that have been available for sale in at least the last 50 years.


–Nolan, Martha A. (1985). A Chronicle: The History of Woman's National Farm & Garden Association, Incorporated: 1914-1984.

–Chicago Tribune, July 23, 1963, Obituary for Russell Tyson.

Price: $35,000 .

See all items by MARIE CURIE