The J. Paul Getty Museum

Leipzig, Germany

Object Details


Leipzig, Germany


Lee Miller (American, 1907 - 1977)




Leipzig, Germany (Place Created)




Gelatin silver print

Object Number:



16.1 × 15.2 cm (6 5/16 × 6 in.)


© The Lee Miller Archives

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Object Description

"The love of death which is the under-pattern of the German living caught up with the high officials of the regime and they gave a great party, toasted death and Hitler and poisoned themselves."
-- Lee Miller

Lee Miller captured this scene: Three people lying dead in a dust-strewn office at the close of World War II. Leipzig, Germany's mayor, his wife, and daughter killed themselves fearing reprisals from the Allied troops who stormed the city. Miller's strong flash illuminating the bodies from above, as well as a desk in the foreground. Light only barely reaches the back of the room, where a framed portrait of Adolf Hitler leans against a doorjamb, receding into the darkness. Lee Miller's Surrealist influence is evident here in the photograph's dreamlike quality. At first glance, the three figures appear to be sleeping. Their bodies slump gently onto furniture.

Miller was one of the first photojournalists to enter Germany with the Allies. Her photographs and words from the war were made for Vogue magazine, for which she had been shooting fashion spreads just one year earlier, although they were rarely published. The war, according to her son, Antony Penrose, "gave her a clarity of purpose which focussed [sic] her whole life ... to shape a world based on the principles of justice and truth and compassion."

1945 - 1977

Created by the artist, Lee Miller, American, 1907 - 1977, by inheritance to her son, Antony Penrose, 1977.

1977 - 2004

Antony Penrose , acting as the Lee Miller Archives, sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 2004.

The Surrealist Muse: Lee Miller, Roland Penrose and Man Ray (February 25 to June 15, 2003)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), February 25 to June 15, 2003
Pictures for the Press (September 20, 2005 to January 22, 2006)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), September 20, 2005 to January 22, 2006
Man Ray/Lee Miller: Partners in Surrealism (July 14 to October 14, 2012)
Who's Afraid of Women Photographers? (October 13, 2015 to January 25, 2016)
  • Musée d'Orsay (Paris), October 13, 2015 to January 25, 2016
Education Resources
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Historical Witness, Social Messaging

Additional works of art related to the themes and topics of the curriculum.