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Photograph - Civilian defense
  • Civilian defense
    Weston, Edward Henry, born 1886 - died 1958
  • Enlarge image

Civilian defense

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    United States (photographed)

  • Date:

    1942 (photographed)
    c.1980 (printed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Weston, Edward Henry, born 1886 - died 1958 (photographer)
    Weston, Cole (printer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Gelatin silver print

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F, case X, shelf 1009, box A

Physical description

Black and white photograph of a reclining nude female wearing a gas mask, with her legs crossed, positioned in front of a palm branch.

Place of Origin

United States (photographed)


1942 (photographed)
c.1980 (printed)


Weston, Edward Henry, born 1886 - died 1958 (photographer)
Weston, Cole (printer)

Materials and Techniques

Gelatin silver print


Length: 32.7 cm sheet, Width: 26 cm sheet

Descriptive line

Photograph by Edward Weston, 'Civilian Defense', gelatin silver print, 1942

Labels and date

Gallery 100, 2016-17:

Edward Weston (1886–1958)
‘Civilian Defense’

After the bombing of Pearl Harbour in 1941, American photographer Edward Weston was posted as an air-raid warden. In this image he photographed his wife wearing her government-issued gas mask and posing beside the palm of peace. The traditional artists’ subject of the reclining female nude is compromised by wartime necessity.

Gelatin silver print
Museum no. Ph.2321-1980 []
Unspecified exhibition label:

Weston began a new series of works in 1942. Following the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbour, Weston became an air-raid warden at Point Lobos, formerly his favourite photographic site. Californians were equipped with gas-masks in preparation for enemy attack. This tableau, sometimes called Victory, shows Weston's wife Charis nude on a couch wearing a gas mask and accompanied by the palm of peace: the classic artistic subject of the nude comprised by wartime necessity and rhetoric. He wrote of this as 'one of the great photographs on which I will stake my reputation'. []


Photographic paper


Gelatin silver process

Subjects depicted

Gas masks; Nudes




Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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