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Virgil Apger (American, 1903-1994), Portrait of Ava Gardner, taken ca. 1950s, printed from a large format negative

Virgil Apger (American, 1903-1994), Portrait of Ava Gardner, taken ca. 1950s, printed from a large format negative

Item Description:

Silver halide print on heavy photo paper, printed from a large-format negative ca. 1950s, the words "Ava Garner" handwritten in blue ink lower right margin, stamped "Virgil Apger MGM Studios" in black ink on reverse and inscribed "Ava Gardner" in pencil


Needs to be flattened, bumps to the edges, toned, please contact for specific condition questions and to request a full condition report.


Metro Goldwyn Mayer Studios, California

Private collection, California, 2012


Height 20 in.

Width 16 in.

About The Artist:

Virgil Apger began his career working at Paramount as an assistant to his brother in law, Robert Richee, then head of Paramount's Portrait Studio. In 1930, Apger became an assistant to Clarence Sinclair Bull at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios (MGM). Apger became head of the prestigious MGM Portrait Gallery in 1947, where he was a still photographer for Hollywood films including Point Blank (1967), The Wizard of Oz (1939), Some Came Running (1958) and That Forsythe Woman (1949). Apger's images were more reserved than the glamorous work of his MGM predecessors Ruth Harriet Louise and George Hurrell, and were celebrated for their accessible elegance.

During his forty years at MGM, Apger photographed all of the major Hollywood stars, including Greta Garbo, Judy Garland, Clark Gable, Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Crawford, and Esther Williams. He was an industry favorite and frequently shot cover images for American magazines including Life, Look, and Photoplay. Apger is the only Hollywood photographer who has received an Academy Award; he was awarded "Best Posed Production Still" at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Second Annual Still Show for a shot of Greer Garson from the film Mrs. Miniver (1942). Apger retired from MGM in 1969, and he died in San Diego, California, in 1994.

Richard Leach Maddox introduced the gelatin silver printing process in 1871, and commercial photographers began using gelatin silver prints widely in the last quarter of the 19th century. As fine art black and white photography gained popularity and acceptance as an artistic medium, the demand for a broader range of papers and finishes (glossy, matte, textured, etc.) increased, reaching its height in the 1930s. Gelatin silver printing remained the dominant photographic process until the development of color photography in the 1960s.

An MGM talent scout was so taken by a photograph of the teenage Ava Gardner (1922-1990) in the window of her brother-in-law's photo studio that he awarded her a Hollywood film contract based strictly on her beauty. Throughout her career, Gardner was widely considered the most beautiful actress in Hollywood history.


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Virgil Apger (American, 1903-1994), Portrait of Ava Gardner, taken ca. 1950s, printed from a large format negative

Listed price: $550.00

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