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Photograph - Mainbocher Corset

Mainbocher Corset

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Paris (photographed)

  • Date:

    08/1939 (photographed)
    15/09/1939 (published)
    12/1939 (published)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Horst , born 1906 - died 1999 (photographer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Gelatin silver print

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The German-born photographer Horst P. Horst (real name Horst Bohrmann) began to work for the French Vogue in 1931, a year after his arrival in Paris. He was greatly influenced by his Surrealist contemporaries such as Salvador Dali and Man Ray, using elements of Surrealism in his work.

This photograph was taken on the day he left France for New York, just weeks before the outbreak of the Second World War. It was then published in the French Vogue in December 1939. The dramatic lighting and the body, which is only partially seen, are elements which often occurred in Horst's work and suggest a Surrealist influence.

Physical description

Fashion photograph depicting a model wearing a corset. Seen from the back, the model has raised, bent arms and lowers her head to her left shoulder. The corset has back-lacing, the stay ribbons are left partly undone.

Place of Origin

Paris (photographed)


08/1939 (photographed)
15/09/1939 (published)
12/1939 (published)


Horst , born 1906 - died 1999 (photographer)

Materials and Techniques

Gelatin silver print


Height: 347 mm Paper, Width: 275 mm Paper, Height: 256 mm Image, Width: 200 mm Image

Descriptive line

Photograph by Horst P. Horst, 'Mainbocher Corset', Corset designed by Detolle for Mainbocher modelled by Madame Bernon. Gelatin silver print, 1939.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

'Horst: "It was the last photograph I took in Paris before the war. [….] This photograph is perculiar - for me, it is the essence of that moment. While I was taking it, I was thinking of all that I was leaving behind."
Lawford, Valentine, Horst: His World and His Work, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1984

Labels and date

‘Selling Dreams: One Hundred Years of Fashion Photography’, 2014. Label text:

Horst P. Horst (1906–99)
Mainbocher Corset
Pink satin corset made by Detolle for Mainbocher
American Vogue, 1939

With war looming in the late 1930s, many photographers and artists fled Europe for America. Horst later wrote of this, his most iconic image: ‘It was created by emotion … It was the last photo I took in Paris before the war … The photograph is peculiar for me. While I was taking it, I was thinking of all that I was leaving behind.’

Gelatin silver print
Museum no. PH.222-1985
[07 03 2014]




Gelatin silver process

Subjects depicted

Surrealism; Corsets


Photographs; Fashion


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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