Real or Surreal?

by Dorothea

Model, Muse & Artist

The Amazing Life of Lee Miller

Lee Miller5

Lee Miller, self portrait 1932

What would I have given to have lived in Paris in the 1920’s and 1930’s..every artist, writer, photographer, socialite, thinker and person of interest congregated there…American beauty Lee Miller epitomizes all of the aspects of those heady days, where all was possible, and much was invented…Impossibly beautiful, she was an avant garde “It Girl” with brains and talent.


Lee Miller, “solarized” portrait, photographer unknown.

She was a (nude!) model for her father as a child and later a fashion model in the 1920’s in New York. In 1929 she went to Paris, attracted by the Surrealist movement. Miller became a model for Man Ray and his co-collaborator, as well as his lover and muse.


Lee Miller and Agnita Fischer, by George Hoyningen-Huene

She soon became a famous photographer in her own right. Amongst her circle of friends were Pablo Picasso, Paul Éluard, and Jean Cocteau. The height of fame was to have Picasso paint your portrait:


Portrait of Lee Miller by Picasso

Lee Miller and Picasso - 1944
Picasso and Lee Miller in 1944 – look at the complicity between them…

She lived in Egypt in the 1930’s and was a WWII war photographer, taking some of the iconic photographs of the war. She was present at the liberation of the concentration camps of Dachau and Buchenwald and took harrowing images.


Lee Miller in Hitler’s bathtub

After the war she quit photography and settled in the English countryside with her husband, the British surrealist painter Roland Penrose. She died at 70.