Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Last Sitting


I was faffing around the other day  reorganising my bookshelves when I came across a book I bought years ago when I was a student in Brighton, purchased from a cut price book shop, the book cost about a pound, because the copy on the dust-jacket was printed upside down.

The book is 'The Last Sitting' by Bert Stern a story of the last photo shoot of Marilyn Monroe before her untimely death.  The shoot was for Vogue and the photographs were taken over three photographic sittings in June 1962 (she died in August 1962).

Out of all the hundreds, probably thousands of images of Marilyn, I think Bert Sterns photographs are my favourite, I think he managed to capture something that other photographers missed.

The book is a bit tatty now, I had it in one of the guest bedrooms for years and unsurprisingly it was very well thumbed!  The dust jacket is long gone.  Now it is safely on the bookshelf.  It was a joy to discover it again, not only are the photographs beautiful and haunting (given the timing) but I remember it was a fascinating story, I think I will be reading it again soon. 

























The scar from surgery to remove her gall bladder is clearly visible





The photographer and his subject


The book I have is the abridged version first published in 1982, I believe there is a newer book 'The Complete Last Sitting' with more photographs.

Available here.

32 comments:

  1. She was a beautiful woman and she had a brain, something she was forced to down play. These photos do indeed catch something different in her. Thanks for sharing them. You have an impressive eye and taste for books.

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  2. Me encanta es blonda es muy interesante su blog

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  3. This is a great book and I believe that it shows the best photos taken of Marilyn Monroe, ever.
    Speaking of great photos, where was the photo taken at the top of your blog. It is beautiful.

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  4. Hi Dash....

    I was never a big Marilyn fan but I have to say these photos show me another side. The second one is my favourite...I have never seen it before. It is so expressive, it makes you wonder.

    Just scrolled thru your photos from previous posts. You have been busy, they are wonderful!

    Best wishes...

    Jeanne :)

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  5. These photographs are wonderful..they show her in a different light.
    Thanks for posting them.

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  6. What an awesome finders keepers! takes my breath away- nobody ever can be another she...Thanks for sharing the photos- they really are splendid!

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  7. She was such a beautiful woman and the camera loved her, I also like to think she was a lovely person. I think I have this book I must get it down and re read it ..well look at it, such wonderful images xx

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  8. Dear Dash, wow that's mad. I was looking at Bert Stern's book yesterday! These are great pictures. It's quite strange to think these were taken six weeks before her death.

    I was going to post one of the pictures, not one of these - the ones you've chosen are beautiful - along with one from a recent Bert Stern shoot.

    I love Marilyn. I keep meaning to read My Week With Marilyn by Colin Clark which is on a pile on my bedside table gathering dust.

    Great minds think alike and all that! I hope you had a brilliant holiday. Good to have you back xx

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  9. The photographs are wonderful and thank you for sharing. Nice to start Monday looking at them.

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  10. Doesn't she have this complete openness about herself? The images speak volumes.

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  11. Love the penultimate photo - aren't those magnums?!

    The last one is interesting because these days, a woman that famous would almost certainly have fake breasts. You don't see many natural ones around uncovered now...

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  12. Wasn't she lovely?

    As Madonna said, she gave great face. I think I've got this book kicking around somewhere too. Must get it out and trawl through it.

    Another lovely post, Dash. Thank you!

    Ali x

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  13. wow, i just love your blog. you always have such a beautiful pictures - like little gems!

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  14. She had something so special.
    And a poignant sadness, too.

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  15. Whoever marked up the proofs with Conté sticks had beautiful handwriting.
    Does anyone even look at proof sheets anymore? I think it is all digital now.
    The unearthly images of Marilyn speak for themselves. Your choice of images and the order in which they are laid out lead me to suspect that you have a graphic design past.
    The way the first image draws the eye down to the copy is genius.
    Have I gushed enough?
    X David

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  16. What beautiful pictures. They must be the best that I have seen of Marilyn, stunning. e xxx

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  17. My favorite photo of Marilyn Monroe is one by Philippe Halsman. She's on her back doing a dumb-bell press wearing jeans and a bikini top. My kinda girl.

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  18. beautiful photos of such a beautiful person.. I agree with other comments, they do show a different side of her.. thanks for referring this book , have to get it!
    oh and thank you for posting boho mode necklace on coveted items , I'm so flattered and I'm glad you like them.

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  19. Ah I love the Last Sittings! I've always thought she looks so candid in these photographs - more womanly and authentic than in other, more 'posed' images of her.
    Gorgeous post, as always! xo

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  20. I don't think I've ever seen these photographs before so what a treat this post is. Thank you Dash! I agree, Stern did capture something others missed.

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  21. Another great share! Loved these photos - she looks so beautiful here.

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  22. I love the first picture. It shows her like she was, an intelligent, sensitive thinking person...it's impossible not to love her...I've painted her about ten times and can't stop it...
    You've chosen her most beautiful photos...great post. Thank you.

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  23. i love this book and have it too although the cover is very tatty now as my son used to do sword practice with the book shelves when he was younger .......brilliant pictures!!

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  24. what a beauty she was....

    happy to visit with you today
    hello to you and crusoe...

    kary and teddy
    xxx
    california

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  25. what a beauty she was....

    happy to visit with you today
    hello to you and crusoe...

    kary and teddy
    xxx
    california

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  26. Oh Dash
    These images and simply wonderful.. I saw a documentary on this photo shoot not so long ago.. It was actual footage from the day of the shoot.. fascinating.. I personally think these are the some of her best shots.. They show both her vulnerability as well as her confidence. Maybe i like the fact she looks a little ragged in the first few shots.. ... in short.. they show the enigma that she was...

    Great post.. xxx Julie

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  27. I had never seen some of these photos. I thought I'd seen them all. Thank you. They are wonderful.

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  28. What beautiful photos, Dash. I especially like the second one and the one with her behind the camera.

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  29. what a beautiful woman!
    I really enjoyed reading that! I also might have to purchase the book,

    thanks :)

    http://clothesmaiden.blogspot.com/

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  30. Do you know, I think that Marilyn was at her most beautiful in these photos, in the same way that Diana was just before she died. Must be something about poise, experience etc.

    Love your choice of photos.

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  31. 50yrs since Marilyn's death. Along Jayne Mansfield ladies had original. Appeal no doubt fans continue admire. Original presences oppose Madonna literally. Stealing there remembrance denying. Influence devine
    Marilyn always. Admire George Barris,Richard Adevon and Bert Stern. Session natural not enhance "Studio gloss. Madonna shall never erase the trace. Great Hollywood sirens Marilyn never. Be replace nor Diana Dors!

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