New Exhibition and Publication by Lee Miller Archives

The enigmatic 'Portrait of Space' allows the viewer to decide where their focus lies and what is happening. The cloud behind the frame, reminiscent in shape of a bird, is possibly alluding to how Lee felt at the time. Loving the adventure of the desert yet finding the expectations of the ex-patriot society stifling, she felt a longing to escape. In Egypt Lee was far from the buzzing art movement she had been a part of in Paris. In her letters to Roland she often asks for news of the artworld, her friends, and for art publications even though she was well connected to several artists in the Egyptian surrealist movement 'Art & Liberty'.

Portrait of Space was first published in the London bulletin in June 1940, along with Lee's photograph of her friend Dora Maar in profile. The image was seen by many of the Surrealist circle. Rene Magritte was particulary inspired by the image and used the shape of the torn fly screen in his 1938 painting Le Baiser. 

This photograph and a similar version are said to have been the inspiration for the painting entitled 'Le Baiser' by the Belgian Surrealist Rene Magritte.

Published in London Bulletin, June 1940.

‘Lee Miller and Roland Penrose: Love Letters Bound in Gold Handcuffs’ is a new exhibition and publication at Farleys House and Gallery in East Sussex. Including photographs that have never been displayed before, the exhibition charts the meeting of photographer Lee Miller and Surrealist artist Roland Penrose.

The exhibition is accompanied by the latest, and biggest, book published by the Lee Miller Archives. In over 400 pages and more than 200 images, Lee and Roland’s love letters tell the story of a long-distance relationship that survived war and political turmoil, producing some of the most important art and photography of the 20th Century.


Lee Miller and Roland Penrose – Love Letters bound in Gold Handcuffs – Farleys House and Gallery


Pre-order – Lee Miller and Roland Penrose – Love Letters in Gold Handcuffs – Farleys House and Gallery

Image: Portrait of Space, Al Bulwayeb, near Siwa, Egypt 1937 by Lee Miller © Lee Miller Archives, England 2023. All rights reserved.