Fresh light on timeless images of screen icons

Marianne Macdonald
Monday 29 April 1996 23:02

A rare picture of Marilyn Monroe in a private moment - rehearsing her lines in the Nevada desert, shortly before her death - is to be sold tomorrow.

The photograph taken on set of the The Misfits in 1960 is one of the classic Hollywood images taken by the Magnum photographic agency and due to be sold at Christie's for an estimated price of between pounds 1,500 and pounds 2,000.

Set up in 1947 by photographer Robert Capa - then the lover of Ingrid Bergman - the Magnum co-operative was famous for its close links with Hollywood and the film industry.

It was also famous for effectively inventing photographers' copyright, a concept devised by Capa in the late 1930s.

The sale is only the second time a group of Magnum photographs has appeared at auction. Highlights are pictures by Eve Arnold - who took the Monroe photograph and formed a close friendship with the actress - as well as Elliot Erwitt, Eric Hartmann and Bruce Davidson.

Also included is one of the most famous images of the 20th century: Monroe in The Seven Year Itch, holding down her white pleated dress as it is blown upwards by a hot air vent on a pavement. It is estimated at up to pounds 2,000.

At around half the price is a photograph of Orson Welles directing Chimes At Midnight, the film of his stage adaptation of the Falstaff scenes of Henry IV.

It shows him smoking, with the cloud of smoke picked out in a funnel of light from a grilled window high above.

Elizabeth Taylor also features, in the prime of her beauty, along with Sophia Loren during the filming of Five Miles To Midnight (pounds 600-pounds 900), her face shadowed and set in the foreground of the picture.

Even the pop star Paul Mc- Cartney is included, peering out through a broken window during the filming of Richard Lester's film A Hard Day's Night in 1964 (pounds 1,000 to pounds 1,500).

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