Photographs of the 1930s by Frederick Stevens Rockwell

mardi 25 juin 2024 15:00
Paris 75008 , 174 rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré 75008 Paris
Sale information

Sale of photographs by Frederick Stevens Rockwell

Sale expert : Mr. Serge Plantureux

Link to article in The Eye of Photography:


00 33 (0) 6 08 47 90 11


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Pierre BORN


Imagine the surprise when the granddaughter of photographer Frederick Stevens Rockwell brought along a suitcase full of magnificent prints, carefully printed on heavy paper. On the back were no less than seven different stamps by this photographer, no prints of whom had ever been seen before. And yet, after a few months' research, we realize that he was very famous in his day. He made the cover of Time Magazine with a portrait of Elsa Schiaparelli in 1934. Reproductions of his photographs can also be found in English magazines such as The Sketch and The Sphere, alongside those of another American on his way to fame, Man Ray. He shot the first advertising campaign for Coca-Cola when the company moved to Paris in 1931. But then, how to explain his oblivion? Well, there's one answer: the Great Depression of 1934. We discover that our photographer had to give up using his luxury papers, which would have delighted museums and collectors, photographic papers so thick and with such magnificent contrast, in favor of more modest, economical papers. But above all, there was his separation from his first wife, a great American fashion pioneer, Grace Corson, who had initiated his Parisian sojourn and with whom he had experienced the whirlwind of the Roaring Twenties in a small Montmartre villa with the most beautiful view of Paris, Villa Léandre, on the bend of Avenue Junot. For personal reasons, he left for Depression-era America, taking nothing with him. He rarely spoke of his Parisian past, and rebuilt a family and professional life in the United States.

Grace Corson returned to New York on November 25, 1935. Her role in the history of fashion is becoming increasingly important, and is the subject of articles and theses by scholars. She did not remarry after their divorce on December 16, 1936, and settled on Martha's Vineyard. Stevens Rockwell, for his part, remarried on December 20, 1936, to Marjorie Snow Sanborn. He rebuilt a family and a totally different professional life in a small Ohio town. He never spoke of his Paris adventure again.

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