Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Q149 – Lee Miller – New Quilt

Good Day,

Today Andy and I would like to present to you our 149th quilt, Lee Miller.

Lee Miller
JS AB 2016

Our quilt Lee Miller is a new and completely different type of quilt that Andy and I have ever attempted.

Elizabeth (Lee) Miller, Lady Penrose; a model, a photographer, a war correspondent, an actor and a photojournalist was born April 23, 1907, in Poughkeepsie, New York, USA, to Theodore and Florence (née MacDonald). Her father, Theodore, was a formative influence in her eventual career path of both modeling and photography. It was at her young age that he taught and used his children, especially Lee, in the pursuit of his amateur hobby of photography.

Lee Miller’s entrance into the world of modeling occurred, literally by accident, when at the age of 19, while in Manhattan she was prevented from being hit by a car by Condé Nast, the publisher of Vogue.

In her early life, after 2 years of being one of the most sought after models in New York, Lee Miller decided to journey to Paris with the specific intention of apprenticing herself to the surrealist artist and photographer Man Ray. “She had tracked him down in a Paris bar and stated that ‘I told him boldly that I was his new student. He said he didn’t take students, and anyway, he was leaving Paris for his holiday. I said, I know, I’m going with you – and I did.’”

Paris became her schooling ground. Apart from the recorded fact that she was “the look of the moment”, (per art critic Richard Calvocoressi referring to her modeling for Vogue in the 1920s), Lee Miller was “the universal muse of the surrealists” as wrote Angela Carter. But she was more than that. Lee Miller “had a camera eye” and she began composing her own self-portraits and moved to doing fashion shoots for Frogue (French Vogue).

After a dissolution with Man Ray, with whom they both had discovered the experimental technique of solarisation – “a perfect surrealist medium in which positive and negative occur simultaneously”, (Haworth-Booth), a partial reversal of blacks and whites that creates a silvery aura, she opened her own portrait studio in New York.

By 1940 Lee Miller was in England where she worked with Brogue (British Vogue). During the war, she ended up back in Paris where she continued to create photographic images credited to her style of composition of the presence/absence of herself, at times being only visible in a reflection.

Lee Miller, working for Vogue, along with a number of other women of various other magazines and papers decided to circumvent the accepted practice of no female correspondents permitted in a combat zone, were “held back” by the Allied command until the Germans were driven from Paris. Miller was the only photojournalist to witness the American assault on the fortress of Saint Malo, as well as she was able to photograph the first operational use of napalm by the US Army Air Force. Almost immediately she was put under house arrest for violating the accreditation terms by entering a combat zone.

At the end of WWII Lee Miller was included as one of the first photojournalists to enter liberated Paris; turn up at Picasso’s apartment; cross into Germany; enter Buchenwald and Dachau; enter and visit Hilter’s and Eva Braun’s flat in Munich by then under US control, where she was photographed in Hitler’s bathtub with her boots and military uniform poised carefully on the floor and on a chair. A good many of her wartime photos achieve a surrealist perspective and acumen: “a bombed chapel, with bricks pouring from its door, resembles a mouth with a tongue hanging out; a grounded, ovid air balloon, with two geese in the foreground, is titled Eggceptional Achievement.

She reported on and photographed France during and after the war. Lee Miller is credited for many photographs and interviews of a number of noteworthy individuals, newsmakers, and famous persons. She interviewed Ed Murrow, whom Miller believed created his stories and reports completely different from anyone else and of whom she attempted to emulate in her photographs. She interviewed the celebrated writer, nearly seventy-two, bedridden and very deaf French writer and novelist Sidionie Gabrielle Colette, who was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948. She photographed and interviewed the arrival of Fred Astaire and Marlene Dietrich in her work and article Players in Paris during the war.

Per Ali Smith’s article The Look of The Moment (The Guardian, 8 Sep 2007) “It’s not just in her photography that Miller asks you to look again. Her voice is as sharp as her eye. It bouleverses a reader’s expectations, turns form and cliché inside out, punctures preconception.

In summation, I quote from Liz Byski’s novel Gang of Four “‘She was some woman, that Lee Miller,’ said Steve, leaning across from her. ‘She did what she wanted to do and damn the conventions.’

Lee Miller passed away July 21, 1977, in Chiddingly, United Kingdom.

The dimensions of our new quilt are 18” wide by 30” long.

Our design is a compilation (albeit mash-up) of works which Andy and I attempt to portray Lee Miller. The quilt is created using 100% cotton and silver vinyl superimposed with inkjet-printed fabric and tulle.

Images –

To see previously posted quilts, there is a visual grid presentation at the bottom of the Quilts SB page. Move your cursor over any mini-picture found there and click to see an enlargement. Move your cursor to the "Q#" link to see the quilt's details. If the quilt’s title is highlighted in yellow, it has found a home in a collection and is no longer available.

Please let me know if anything on the Blog site does not properly work. I’m always striving to make sure an ease of use.

If you are interested and would like some more information of the available quilts, regarding costs, shipping, and insurance, please get in touch with us Quilts SB, at


Jim and Andy

1 comment:

Tristan Robin said...

This is so intriguing - and terrific looking. The layering is fantastic and the color palette is striking.
Thank you for the background story - I found it fascinating, and knowing about her certainly adds to the interest in the quilt.