Miller Lee

Lee Miller

About the artist

1907 — 1977

Born in New York City in 1907, Lee Miller was a groundbreaking photojournalist and fashion and fine art photographer. In her home city, Miller had worked as one of the most in-demand models for Vogue, before moving to Paris and interning in the studio of Man Ray. She would continue to collaborate with Ray, sometimes sharing assignments after establishing her own studio — their entanglement both professional and romantic.

Miller befriended the likes of Picasso, shot for designers including Schiaparelli and Chanel and, after returning to New York, leaned into portraiture and commercial photography outside of fashion. A solo exhibit at the Julien Levy Gallery, which specialised in surrealism, brought more widespread attention to Miller's work throughout the thirties, and she was named by Vanity Fair as one of the most distinguished living photographers.

In 1934, Miller moved to Cairo, married, and developed her skill set while photographing the distinctly un-American landscapes of Egypt, her work often taking on surrealist or dream-like qualities. But by 1937 she was back in Paris. That summer she visited Picasso and Dora Maar in the south of France, shooting portraits of the artist and sitting to be painted in return. She photographed WWII extensively, capturing images from the London Blitz and working again for Vogue, now as a war correspondent.

Miller stopped taking pictures professionally in the fifties, but continued to shoot images of her private life, taking portraits of guests including Max Ernst and Man Ray, with whom she had remained friends, at her Surrey home. She shot Picasso many times over the course of their lives, and in later life indulged a passion for cooking, while hosting friends from the art scene in the English countryside.

After Miller's death in 1977, her son Antony Penrose discovered his mother's vast archive in the attic of her home, including over sixty thousand prints and negatives. Her legacy as a multitalented artist and photographer has grown exponentially over the following decades, with global exhibitions, a stage musical and an upcoming biopic in which Kate Winslet will star. In short, Miller and her work have never been more relevant to the world she left behind.

Technical information

Image 1: Picnick