Lavishly jazz age yet decadently romantic, this nude 1928 photograph of Ziegfeld Follies beauty Alice Lorraine is a spectacular showcase of the talents of Alfred Cheney Johnston. This photograph was mounted on beveled presentation board and hand signed by the iconic photographer, idolized for his masterful soft focus alluring and provocative images of showgirls, flappers, and film stars alike. After Johnston’s death, his heirs began reprinting images from his beloved oeuvre of these 1920s nude photographs, but these original first generation photographs are quite scarce, and doubly so when mounted for gallery display and signed by Johnston himself.
This fetching nude is a remarkable and groundbreaking image. By facing Alice Lorraine, the sitter, so that she looks into the camera, her personality becomes a central characteristic of the photograph, which was a radical departure from the gauzy anonymous nymph like nudes favored by photographers of the era. Additionally, Johnston’s use of props and shoes in his work, captures the sensational modernism of the Ziegfeld Follies in a way few other surviving artifacts do.