The photographic portrait of Eveleigh Nash is among her most well-known images. The multi-layered composition seems to have two perspectives with different vanishing points. Yet the distinguished upper-class lady in her open limousine is connected with the background, as parts of the car’s body form a framework for secondary figures: the chauffeur, the two passers-by and the pedestrians on the Mall are the protagonists of this mise en scène.
As framing always implies a demarcation, the image’s structure also reflects social conditions. The gazes of Mrs. Nash and her chauffeur, both looking directly at the camera, show another ambivalent relationship: that between the subject and the photographer, developing via the photographic apparatus interposed between them. This setting evokes social codes, manifested in the photograph in specific poses.
In Morath’s well-balanced arrangements, those portrayed have sufficient space to meet the camera consciously. Her portraits were never about split-second capture of exposing moments; she preferred four meters distance and a 50-mm objective lens.
Photo credit: © WestLicht Photographica Auction