Born in New York, Lee Miller combined a career as a fashion model for Vogue magazine in the 1920s with her own fine art photography. In 1929 she encountered Man Ray in Paris, famously becoming his apprentice, muse and lover. During this period she made friends with Picasso, Paul Eluard and Jean Cocteau and became an enthusiastic participant in the Surrealist movement. Marriage to an Egyptian businessman resulted in three years living in Cairo, but on a trip to Paris in 1937, she met the surrealist Roland PENROSE.
The pair were instantly attracted to each other. On the spur of the moment Penrose invited her, along with a group of surrealist friends, to Lambe Creek on the Fal Estuary in Cornwall. Here, in a secluded house rented from his brother, the friends enjoyed three weeks of hedonistic pleasure. Though Lee's encounter with Cornwall was brief, this period, with the threat of impending conflict in Europe, was one of intense creativity, during which significant artistic relationships were forged.
During the Second World War, Lee Miller became a US war correspondent, photographing the German occupation of France, the Blitz in London, the liberation of Paris and, in 1945, documenting the horrors of the German concentration camps.
She and Roland Penrose were married in 1947 but the trauma of the scenes she had witnessed during the War affected her mental health. The couple had a son, Antony Penrose. She died in Sussex aged 70.
works and access
Falmouth Art Gallery (19 works)
'The Surrealists in Cornwall - the boat of your body' - Falmouth Art Gallery, 2004
Much has been written about Lee Miller. Her first biography, The Lives of Lee Miller, was written by her son Antony Penrose in 1985