Portraits from Her Private Collection

By Robert Dance; Scott Reisfield
(Rizzoli, Hardcover, 9780847827244, 256pp.)

Publication Date: August 30, 2005

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Famously elusive, Greta Garbo only had her picture taken when a contract required it. She shunned publicity, kept her private life a secret, and rejected the spotlight. Though ambivalent about fame and her public image, Garbo saved all of her favorite portraits, carefully archiving original prints by Clarence Sinclair Bull, Arnold Genthe, Ruth Harriet Louise, Edward Steichen, and Cecil Beaton, among others.
Published here for the first time are these portraits–impeccably reproduced in tritone, one more beautiful than the next. In addition, the book features family pictures, candid photographs, and letters previously viewed only by her closest friends and relatives.
Scott Reisfield provides an intimate portrait of his great aunt, spanning well beyond her career in the public eye–from the earliest days in Sweden when she would sneak through the back door of the theater to see actors rehearse, to her later years in New York when she traveled exclusively through back entrances, side doors, and secret elevators.
Co-author Robert Dance’s essay traces the evolution of the image of Garbo–from the ingénue of her first publicity shots to the icon that she became–while an illustrated film production history documents all the still photography and portraiture of her entire career.
Long treasured by her immediate family alone, this collection of photographs, and the essays that accompany them, form a spectacular tribute to Garbo, the woman and the myth, on the eve of her centennial.

About the Author

Scott Reisfield is Greta Garbo’s grand-nephew.

Robert Dance is a private art dealer in New York, specialized in Old Master painting and drawing. He is the author of several essays on the history of silent film and co-author of Ruth Harriet Louise and Hollywood Glamour Photography.

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