“IN HOMAGE TO THE ARTISTRY AND MEMORY OF… W. EUGENE SMITH”: PRESENTATION/ASSOCIATION COPY OF FACES OF DESTINY, WITH TIPPED-IN AUTOGRAPH PRESENTATION LETTER SIGNED BY YOUSUF KARSH
(SMITH, W. Eugene) KARSH, Yousuf. Faces of Destiny. Portraits by Karsh. Chicago and New York: Ziff-Davis, (1946). Quarto, original blue cloth gilt. $1800.
First edition, second issue, of Karsh’s scarce first photobook, featuring 75 full-page photogravures including his iconic image of Churchill, this rare presentation/association copy with a tipped-in autograph letter to Margery Smith, longtime partner of famed photographer W. Eugene Smith. Karsh’s letter of November 7, 1981 reads, “This volume is inscribed for Mrs. Smith, In homage to the artistry and memory of her husband and my friend, W. Eugene Smith, and with the affectionate wishes of Yousuf Karsh.”
Yousuf Karsh was “the greatest portraitist of political and cultural notables in the 1940s and 50s” (Photobook, 235). “A master of the formally posed, carefully lighted studio portrait… Karsh characteristically achieved a heroic monumentality in which the sitter’s face, grave, thoughtful and impressive, emerged from a dark, featureless background with an almost superhuman grandeur. As the historian Peter Pollack put it in his Picture History of Photography, ‘Yousuf Karsh, in his powerful portraits, transforms the human face into legend.” Faces of Destiny features 75 full-bleed photogravure plates of Karsh’s most famous images, including his iconic 1941 portrait of Winston Churchill (41). “Karsh was given only two minutes to take it, during which he is said to have angered the visiting statesman by taking away his cigar before shooting. However, the portrait that resulted, showing the British prime minister glowering at the camera with a bulldoglike tenaciousness, seemed to epitomize the determination of the British to defeat Hitler, and catapulted Karsh into international fame (New York Times). Second printing, issued same year as first. Without scarce dust jacket. With autograph letter signed by Karsh, in manuscript on the recto of a single leaf of his letterhead stationary, tipped in to the front free endpaper. The work of professional photographer Margery Smith was featured in the landmark MoMA exhibit, Family of Man (1955). Her longtime partner W. Eugene Smith was especially “renowned for the extended picture essays he made for Life… Smith became famous as the model of the committed photojournalist” (New York Times).
Images fine and bright, light edge-wear to near-fine original cloth. An about-fine presentation copy with a memorable association.