The figure in this forceful image is readily identified. The young woman is professional model Henriette Allais -- best known as the confrontational full-length 'Big Nude III' that has become one of Newton's most celebrated and recognisable photographs.
The subject matter is less easy to unravel. At one level the picture might be read simply as a celebration of erotic fetishism. Yet, as ever with Newton's work, there are numerous features that contribute to the picture's power and to its witty perversity. Newton has chosen to photograph his model in hard sunlight outside his house at Ramatuelle near Saint Tropez. The textured wall, the strong shadows of the roof tiles and of the shutter latch are curiously, deliberately and disconcertingly out of key with the conventional closed studio world of fetish photography. Newton has chosen to pose Miss Allais in the harshest of lights, exploiting this with great skill to dramatically sculpt her torso. David Bailey once adapted Noel Coward's famous line to remark that 'only mad dogs and Helmut Newton go out in the midday sun.' Yet Newton always knew precisely how to utilise that raw sunlight to give to images such as this an extraordinary sense of heightened reality.
Newton's knowledge and enjoyment of the history of art and of photography were considerable and he would often toy with an idea he had seen in a painting or photograph from another era until he devised a way to develop it within his own picture making. Man Ray was a point of reference on more than one occasion for Newton and it is interesting to compare 'Henriette Ficelée', as this image is alternatively known, with the Surrealist's perverse sculpture of a classical torso trussed with string that he titled 'Vénus Restaurée'. Newton has given his own mischievous twist to a theme that in one form or other can be traced back through the history of artistic expression. This is a rare pre-1985 original vintage print produced in small numbers from a series of transparencies that Newton considered his most provocative and important work through 1985. They were sent out to major publications to stimulate interest in a photographer’s work. Most were destroyed or written over, it is very rare to find them in immaculate condition
Origina Silver Gelatin Print
Paper Size: 16" x 16"