Marilyn Monroe's first professional photo comes to auction



2015-06-26 11:27:10

It's been described as "perhaps the earliest professional photograph ever taken of Marilyn Monroe" -  and now the single black and white print of the actress is heading to auction in Wiltshire.

The photograph shows the 19-year-old Monroe, still known as Norma Jean Dougherty, as she made her first steps towards superstardom. Having been spotted by a US Army photographer whilst working in a munitions factory, Norma Jean was persuaded to try her hand at modelling.

In early 1946 she signed up to the Blue Book Modelling Agency in Hollywood, and was sent for test shoots with the photographer Joseph Jasgur.

“The image is a true genesis, as it is one of the first professional images ever taken of Marilyn," said auctioneer Andrew Aldridge. "The story behind it is that she had aspirations of becoming a model, so she joined Hollywood’s Blue Book Model Agency, and on March 6, 1946, Joseph Jasgur received a call from Emmeline Snively, the head of Blue Book.

“Snively asked Jasgur to take a few test shots of an aspiring young model and he first photographed her on a small street in West Hollywood, behind Beverly Boulevard.

“It’s a unique negative and print of Norma Jeane, part of some informal test shots that preceded the formal shoot,” added Aldridge. "This photo offers a unique glimpse of the young girl who was to become the global phenomenon that was Marilyn Monroe."

A few weeks later Monroe shot her first professional portfolio on a nearby beach, and quickly became one of the agency's most successful models, before making her step into movies and immortality.

The negative and print of the photograph will be offered as part of the company's Fine Art, Antiques & Collectables sale on Saturday February 14.

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