Image / Golden Fox, Blue Fox, Marilyn Ambrose, Harper's Bazaar, Boa by Frederica, 1954

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Golden Fox, Blue Fox, Marilyn Ambrose, Harper's Bazaar, Boa by Frederica, 1954
Bassman, Lillian
Date Created and/or Issued
Publication Information
Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery
Contributing Institution
Claremont Colleges Library
Photography from the Scripps College Collection
Rights Information
The contents of this item, including all images and text, are for personal, educational, and non-commercial use only. The contents of this item may not be reproduced in any form without the express permission of Scripps College and the Peter Fetterman Gallery. Any form of image reproduction, transmission, display, or storage in any retrieval system is prohibited without the written consent of Scripps College and ©Lillian Bassman Courtesy Peter Fetterman Gallery. Scripps College retains all rights, including copyright, in data, images, documentation, text and other information contained in these files. For permissions, please contact: Scripps College, Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery Attn: Rights and Reproductions, 1030 Columbia Avenue, Claremont, CA 91711 and the Peter Fetterman Gallery, 2525 Michigan Ave #A1, Santa Monica, CA 90404
Commentary: In Golden Fox, Blue Fox, a photograph which appeared in Harper’s Bazaar in November 1954, Marilyn Ambrose, a prominent model of the time, is seen intimately, her face half in shadow, half in a soft glow of light. Ambrose’s visage is divided into well-demarcated lips, nails, and highly stylized brows and a valance of white—a testament to Bassman’s interest in form. This contrast in Bassman’s black-and-white photography illustrates what John Galliano has recently called “painterly strokes of light” (1). The fur’s materiality and texture are accentuated by a sharper focus that contrasts with Ambrose’s almost grainy figure and skeletal hand, reminding the viewer that although this is art, it is still fashion—and hence, advertisement. The hand across Ambrose’s forehead and the anonymous tuxedoed man call attention to Bassman’s ability to capture models in more open and seemingly candid poses, a strength Bassman attributes to being a woman photographer with whom models felt at ease (2). Bassman’s hallmark techniques of darkroom manipulation to alter photographs, which include using brushes to blur edges and ferrocyanic acid to lighten areas of the photograph, can be seen especially in the background, which floats away in a romantic style. The man’s hand and smoking cigarette suggest Bassman’s knack for capturing movement and a playful departure from the portraiture conventions dominant in fashion photography at the time. (1) Lillian Bassman: Women. Intro. Deborah Solomon. New York: Abrams, 2009, pg. 7. (2) Rosenblum, Naomi. A History of Women Photographers. New York: Abbeville Publishing Group, 1994, pg. 230. Item described by Catherine Sweatt, Academic Year Wilson Intern, 2010-2011.
Black-and-white photography
Gelatin silver print
Women photographers
Time Period
1946 to present
New York
Silver gelatin print on paper; black and white photography; 11 in. x 14 in. (27.94 cm x 35.56 cm)
Photography from the Scripps College Collection

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