Lee Miller's family prepares to publish thousands of her unseen photographs online

By Richard Moss | 21 February 2013
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More than 3,000 photographs by famed American photographer Lee Miller are to be published online in a new image library created by the Lee Miller Archive.

a screenshot of the Lee Miller Archive library website
The Lee Miller Archive will soon be publishing more than 3,000 Lee Miller photographs online.© Courtesy the Lee Miller Archive
Many of the images, which will be released in April 2013, have not been seen before by the public, and will triple the number of Miller shots in circulation.  

The full archive of 60,000 original negatives, 20,000 vintage prints and contact sheets and thousands of original documents and manuscripts still belong to her family and are carefully kept at her former home (now a living museum), Farley Farm House in East Sussex.

With her husband, the painter and Picasso biographer Roland Penrose, she moved in 1949 to Farley, where the couple entertained a procession of artists including Picasso, Tapies and Max Ernst.

Despite her current reputation as one of the major photographers of the 20th century, her son Antony Penrose admits to knowing “little about his mother or her career” during her lifetime. The vast majority of the negatives were found after her death, hidden away in boxes in the attic.

“Our home, Farley Farm House had been filled with magical, kind and wonderful people who I later discovered were the leading artists of their day,” says Penrose. “But in this warm atmosphere my mother often seemed absent even when present.”

Miller’s now-famous wartime work resulted in her suffering severe post-traumatic stress disorder, which led to her sliding into alcoholism and depression.

“She had been relentlessly self-deprecating about her life, so I knew nothing of her multifaceted career as a supermodel, surrealist photographer and combat photojournalist,” adds Penrose, who has been instrumental in reviving her reputation.

Converted from the original negatives or vintage prints into digital format, the newly released pictures cover many aspects of a career which encompassed Surrealist experiments in 1920s Paris with Man Ray, three decades of fashion photography, acclaimed war photography and post-war celebrity shots for Vogue.

“The collating of her images has taken many years” says Penrose.

“This is the exciting moment when we are able to realise our long-term objective as a family and are able to share thousands of her images - many never seen before - through our new website.

"We hope it will be a valuable resource for publishers, researchers, picture editors and students worldwide.”

The release, which will be viewable at www.leemiller.co.uk coincides with a 2013 season of extended guided tours at Farley Farm House. See www.farleyfarmhouse.co.uk for more details.

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