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Sir Robert Vansittart with press at the Quai d'Orsay, Paris, 1935

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Paris (made)

  • Date:

    1935 (made)
    c.1990 (printed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Salomon, Erich Dr, born 1886 - died 1944 (photographer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Gelatin-silver print

  • Credit Line:

    Given by John and Judith Hillelson

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F, case X, shelf 989, box D

Physical description

Black and white photograph of two men at the bottom of a flight of stairs being photographed by the press. Photograph taken from the top of the stairs, showing their backs and the glare of the flash lights.

Place of Origin

Paris (made)


1935 (made)
c.1990 (printed)


Salomon, Erich Dr, born 1886 - died 1944 (photographer)

Materials and Techniques

Gelatin-silver print

Marks and inscriptions

In pencil on reverse, the caption written in German, and 'L 505 312'.
Centre reverse, the stamp of the Berlinsche Galerie
Erich Salomon buried his negatives and glass plates in Holland before being murdered in Auschwitz in 1944. The negatives were dug up by his son, Peter Hunter Salomon, and are now in the custody of the photo section of the Berlinische Galerie.


Height: 23 cm image, Height: 17 cm image, Height: 18 cm sheet, Width: 24 cm

Object history note

This photograph was one of a collection given to the V&A by John and Judith Hillelson. One of the most important picture agents in post-war Britain, John Hillelson established his agency in London in 1958 and acted as the UK representative of Magnum photographers and later the French agencies Viva and Sygma until the early 1990s. During the 1950s and '60s he collaborated with a new generation of weekly and fashion magazine editors to publish photostories by Magnum photographers and gain exposure for less-known work, such as the pictures of apartheid smuggled out of South Africa by Ernest Cole in 1966-7. As photography gained institutional recognition in the 1970s and '80s and the market for photographic prints grew, Hillelson also started to collect and represent the work of the first generation of photojournalists - including Erich Salomon and Lucien Aigner - whose pictures had been so widely published in the 1930s. The selection of photographs from the agency's archive now in the V&A's collection thus forms an incredibly rich and diverse record of some of the best photojournalism from the 1930s to the 1980s.

Historical context note

Erich Salomon was a key figure in the development of modern photojournalism. He graduated in law in 1913 before being called up for military service. When war ended he returned to Berlin and in 1925 he got a job in the publicity department of the publishers Ullstein. He bought a large-format press camera before acquiring a more compact Ermanox in 1927. After publishing his first press photograph in the Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung in 1928, Salomon set himself up as a freelance photographer and journalist. He travelled widely in Europe and America and soon became known for his off-guard pictures of politicians, sporting events and celebrities. Salomon went to such great lengths to disguise his camera that the editor of Graphic coined the term 'candid photography' to describe his clandestine technique. In 1931 he published a book of his work entitled Famous Contemporaries in Unguarded Moments and in 1935 held an exhibition at the Royal Photographic Society in London. However, the rise of the Nazis meant that from 1933 Salomon, who was Jewish, was no longer able to publish in German magazines, so he moved with his family to The Hague in the Netherlands. He was discovered by the Nazi authorities in 1944 and, with his wife and son Dirk, deported to Theresienstadt in Czechoslovakia and then on to Auschwitz.

Descriptive line

Sir Robert Vansittart, Quai d'Orsay, Paris, 1935, (printed later) Erich Salomon, gelatin-silver print




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