Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Toni Frissell (1907-1988) was an American Master photographer

Toni Frissell, or Antoinette Frissell Bacon, (March 10, 1907 - April 17, 1988) was an American photographer, known for her fashion photography, World War II photographs, portraits of famous Americans and Europeans, children, and women from all walks of life.
Pre-war career
Antoinette Frissell was born in 1907 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, but took photos under the name Toni Frissell, even after her marriage to Manhattan socialite McNeil Bacon. She worked with many famous photographers of the day, as an apprentice to Javier Hernandez, and with advice from Edward Steichen. Her initial job, as a fashion photographer for Vogue in 1931, was due to Condé Montrose Nast personally. She later took photographs for Harper's Bazaar. Her fashion photos, even of evening gowns and such, were often notable for their outdoor settings, emphasizing active women.

World War II

In 1941, Frissell volunteered her photographic services to the American Red Cross. 
Later she worked for the Eighth Army Air Forceand became the official photographer of the Women's Army Corps. On their behalf, she took thousands of images of nurses, front-line soldiers, WACs, African-American airmen, and orphaned children. She traveled to the European front twice. Her moving photographs of military women and African American fighter pilots in the elite 332d Fighter Group (the "Tuskegee Airmen") were used to encourage public support for women and African Americans in the military.

After the war

In the 1950s, she took informal portraits of the famous and powerful in the United States and Europe, including Winston Churchill,Eleanor Roosevelt, and John F. and Jacqueline Kennedy, and worked for Sports Illustrated and Life magazines. Continuing her interest in active women and sports, she was the first woman on the staff of Sports Illustrated in 1953, and continued to be one of very few female sport photographers for several decades.
In later work she concentrated on photographing women from all walks of life, often as a commentary on the human condition.


Her photographs illustrated:
  • A Child's Garden of Verses (1944)
  • Bermuda:The Happy Island (1946)
  • Mother Goose (1948)
  • The King Ranch, 1939-1944 (1965)
  • Tethered, by Amy MacKinnon (August 2008)

Personal life

Daughter of Lewis Fox Frissell and Antoinette Wood Montgomery, Granddaughter of Algernon Sydney Frissell; founder and president of the Fifth Avenue Bank of New York, Great-Granddaughter of Mary Whitney Phelps and Governor of Missouri; John S. Phelps. Descendant (GG Granddaughter) of Elisha Phelps: US Representative from Connecticut (1819–21, 1825–29). Descendant (GGG Granddaughter) of Maj. Gen. Noah Phelps: Revolutionary War hero. Sister of Phelps Montgomery Frissell and Filmmaker Lewis Varick Frissell who was killed in Newfoundland during the filming of “The Viking” in 1931.
Toni Frissell died of Alzheimer's disease on April 17, 1988, in a Long Island nursing home. Her husband, Francis M. Bacon 3rd, of Bacon, Stevenson & Company, predeceased her. She was survived by a daughter and a son.

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