George Hurrell (1904–1992) took this portrait of Joan Crawford at her home in Brentwood in 1932 and printed it circa 1980 as part of his Portfolio III series. He signed the image “109/250” and “Hurrell/” in black ink. This large, custom framed and matted original black and white silver gelatin photograph is printed on double weight matte finish paper.
Hurrell was the American celebrity photographer of the 20th century and his atmospheric work was synonymous with Hollywood glamour, sophistication and elegance. He photographed many movie stars of the 1930s-1940s and Crawford was one of his favorite subjects. According to Hurrell, "If I were a sculptor, I would be satisfied with just doing Joan Crawford all the time." (Hurrell's Hollywood Portraits, p. 143).
The print is in very good condition with wonderful tonality. Hurrell slightly smeared his signature after signing. The black painted wooden frame is new and the mat shows no sign of age. The sheet measures 20 in. W X 16 in. H; framed 26 in. W x 22 in. H x 1.5 in. D.
Hurrell trained as a painter and photographer at the Chicago Art Institute and the nearby Academy of Fine Arts. During his career, he worked alongside other well-known photographers including Paul Outerbridge, Edward Steichen and Edward Weston. His relationship with studios including MGM, 20th century Fox and Warner Brothers, began in 1929 and continued for decades. In addition to his portraits of Joan Crawford, he photographed Humphrey Bogart, Douglas Fairbanks, Greta Garbo, Rita Hayworth and Dorothy Lamour, Vivian Leigh and Jane Russell. His decision to print his own negatives ensured that his sleek compositions retained their velvety tones. The end of the studio system during the 1950s led Hurrell to work for the J. Walter Thompson Agency to produce fashion campaigns for well-known magazines as well as commercials for Walt Disney. In the 1970s, Hurrell returned to Hollywood portraiture to photograph a new generation of stars. The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) exhibited his work in 1965 and 1981 and the Smithsonian included him in a 1984 traveling exhibition on Hollywood portrait photographers. In Los Angeles, his prints appeared at the Municipal Art Museum (1976) and Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) (1987).