Vintage: Early 20th Century B&W Nudes

Vintage: Early 20th Century B&W Nudes


Since the first days of photography, the nude was a source of inspiration for those that adopted the new medium. Most of the early images were closely guarded or surreptitiously circulated as violations of the social norms of the time, since the photograph captures real nudity. Many cultures, while accepting nudity in art, shun actual nudity. For example, even an art gallery which exhibits nude paintings will typically not accept nudity in a visitor. Alfred Cheney Johnston (1885–1971) was a professional American photographer who often photographed Ziegfeld Follies. He also maintained his own highly successful commercial photo studio, producing magazine ads for a wide range of upscale retail commercial products—mostly men’s and women’s fashions—and also photographed several hundred artists and showgirls, including nude photographs of some. Most of his nude images (some named, mostly anonymous) were, in fact, showgirls from the Ziegfeld Follies, but such daring, unretouched full-frontal images would certainly not have been openly publishable in the 1920s–1930s, so it is speculated that these were either simply his own personal artistic work, and/or done at the behest of Flo Ziegfeld for the showman’s personal enjoyment.

Photograph by Jean Louis Marie Eugène Durieu, part of a series made with Eugène Delacroix

Photograph by Jean Louis Marie Eugène Durieu, part of a series made with Eugène Delacroix

Classic Johnston 1920s nude portrait of unidentified model, most likely a Ziegfeld Follies showgirl

Classic Johnston 1920s nude portrait of unidentified model, most likely a Ziegfeld Follies showgirl

Virginia Biddle, by Johnston

Virginia Biddle, by Johnston

Vintage: Early 20th Century B&W Nudes

Vintage: Early 20th Century B&W Nudes

Vintage: Early 20th Century B&W Nudes

Vintage: Early 20th Century B&W Nudes

Vintage: Early 20th Century B&W Nudes

Vintage: Early 20th Century B&W Nudes

Vintage: Early 20th Century B&W Nudes

Vintage: Early 20th Century B&W Nudes

Vintage: Early 20th Century B&W Nudes

Vintage: Early 20th Century B&W Nudes

Vintage: Early 20th Century B&W Nudes

Vintage: Early 20th Century B&W Nudes

Vintage: Early 20th Century B&W Nudes

Vintage: Early 20th Century B&W Nudes

Vintage: Early 20th Century B&W Nudes

Vintage: Early 20th Century B&W Nudes

Vintage: Early 20th Century B&W Nudes

Vintage: Early 20th Century B&W Nudes

Vintage: Early 20th Century B&W Nudes

Vintage: Early 20th Century B&W Nudes


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