When you ask a person to jump, his attention is mostly directed toward the act of jumping and the mask falls so that the real person appears” ~ Philippe Halsman

The freezing of motion has a long and fascinating history in photography … But rarely has stop-action been used in the unlikely, whimsical and often mischievous ways that Philippe Halsman employed it. [B]ecause of Halsman’s sense of play, we have the jump pictures—portraits of the well known, well launched.

This odd idiom was born in 1952, Halsman said, after an arduous session photographing the Ford automobile family to celebrate the company’s 50th anniversary. As he relaxed with a drink offered by Mrs. Edsel Ford, the photographer was shocked to hear himself asking one of the grandest of Grosse Pointe’s grande dames if she would jump for his camera. “With my high heels?” she asked. But she gave it a try, unshod—after which her daughter-in-law, Mrs. Henry Ford II, wanted to jump too.

For the next six years, Halsman ended his portrait sessions by asking sitters to jump. It is a tribute to his powers of persuasion that Richard Nixon, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Judge Learned Hand (in his mid-80s at the time) and other figures not known for spontaneity could be talked into rising to the challenge of…well, rising to the challenge. He called the resulting pictures his hobby, and in Philippe Halsman’s Jump Book, a collection published in 1959, he claimed in the mock-academic text that they were studies in “jumpology.”

Images: 1. Marilyn Monroe, 2. The Duke and Duchess of Windsor, 3. Sophia Loren, 4. Shirley Maclaine, 5. Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, 6. Hattie Jacques, 7. Audrey Hepburn, 8. Grace Kelly, 9. J. Fred Muggs.

[Source: Smithsonian Mag | More Images]


Bal Masque; Ligne Trapèze - Cocktail dress
Paris, 1958. Designed By; Yves Saint Laurent, for The House Of Dior. Silk tulle and boned silk, with bugle beads and satin ribbons.

The Duchess of Windsor patronised top Paris designers throughout her life. Christian Dior was a particular favourite. She was sixty-two years old when she selected this black evening dress. It was called ‘Bal Masque’ and came from the 1958 spring-summer collection designed by Yves Saint Laurent for the house of Dior. The style of the dress is influenced by the bell-shaped skirts fashionable in the 1860s. This influence can also been seen in the way it has been constructed. This dress has a tightly fitted boned corset and a bell-shaped skirt supported by a layered petticoat.The lightweight overdress is made of a double layer of spotted black tulle. It is studded with sparkling black bugle beads which are arranged in festoons caught at intervals by 42 bows of satin ribbon. The dress buttons down the back. | V&A

Just two of the types of luggage Wallis Simpson took with her on her travels. Both were made by Goyard of Paris in the 1940s. On top is a document case lined in yellow silk satin and on the bottom a trunk lined in cream silk. Notice ‘The Duchess of Windsor’ prominently labeled on the luggage. Wallis did use luggage tags, one with her title and Paris address stamped on faux tortoiseshell. Photo from Sotheby’s catalog.