A very rare original first generation gelatin silver sepia antique photograph of the young, artfully posed film legend Jean Harlow. From her infamous 1929 nude romp in Los Angeles’ Griffith Park. The park was a frequent location for risque photo shoots by Edwin Bower Hesser. This photograph was originally published in Hesser’s own “Art Studies” magazine series, an unusual title which published hundreds of these erotically charged soft focus images by Hesser and others. At the time of this photo shoot, Harlow was an unknown mode (much like Norma Jean in her pre – Marilyn Monroe Blue Book agency pin-up model days), and the following year her career took off on a tragically short trajectory after her role in Howard Hughes’ “Hell’s Angels”.
This photo shoot has been documented in recent editions of Playboy Magazine, and has become notorious and legendary. This is 100% guaranteed an original first generation Edwin Bower Hesser photograph and the model is guaranteed to be Jean Harlow. This is the original document — not a reprint of any kind, we have several stills from this collection we will be offering at Grapefruit Moon Gallery. Below are a few examples of Edwin Bower Hesser printed and published materials for reference and usage clarification, they are not included with the photograph.
Edwin Bower Hesser was born Karl Edwin Hesser on April 23, 1893 in Jersey City, New Jersey. Born into a theatrical family with a theatrical company manager as a father and an art teacher as a mother, Hesser became involved in theater, drawing, sculpture, painting, and commercial photography at the age of 17. In 1914, he married Rhea May Reed in Aberdeen, South Dakota while managing a theatrical troupe. In 1917, Hesser wrote the story for a theatrical film entitled For the Freedom of the World and wrote, produced, and directed The Triumph of Venus that same year.
In 1918, Hesser was commissioned as Captain in the Photographic Section of the U.S. Army Signal Corps where he reorganized the motion picture photographic division of the Army. Later that year, Hesser received an honorable discharge and moved to New York City. He also separated from his wife Rhea, who later divorced him in 1920. Hesser was employed as a writer and producer by First National Pictures, and then started his own independent photographic studio. Hesser moved to Los Angeles in 1920 to continue to work for First National Pictures, he became the portrait photographer for the studio’s stars (he still maintained his photo studio in New York). That same year, he also started up a second independent photography studio in Los Angeles while working as a photographer for the L.A. Examiner. In his independent photography studios Hesser focused mainly on calendar pictures and art illustrations for major photographic magazines, and continued his portraiture work of theatrical and Hollywood personalities. In 1925, he began his own magazine entitled Arts Monthly Pictorial, which featured his photographic work of nude and semi-nude women. He married his second wife, Margaret Watts, in 1931, but she left and divorced him in 1933 to marry Ridgeway Callow. On July 1, 1934, Hesser married his former model Eve, who became a major collaborator in his photographic business. Eve’s father, Clarence Cunningham, became the chief financier of Hesser’s business and helped him finance the development of his own three-color system known as Hessercolor. This color system involved three separate negatives that captured three color values. Gelatin prints (yellow, cyan, and magenta) were then made from the negatives and layered together to create one color print. Hessercolor was used on the sets of early Technicolor films such as La Cucaracha (1934) and Becky Sharp (1935). After loosing the battle to Kodak for the use of his color system in World War II photography, Hesser’s career began to focus on war-time inventions such as an aerial color camera and water and flame proof insulation for military airplanes. He continued his magazine and fashion photography into the 1940s, shooting on Kodachrome, and also began to do family and individual portraiture for hire. Throughout his life, Hesser experienced numerous health problems. He died August 7, 1962.