Gisèle Freund Papers, 1933-1990

Overview of the Collection

Freund, Gisèle
Gisèle Freund Papers
1933-1990 (inclusive)
0.5 Linear feet of shelf space, (1 Box)
Collection Number
Cage 678 (collection)
Chiefly correspondence and reviews relating to photography books published in U.S. between 1980 and 1985.
Washington State University Libraries' Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections (MASC)
Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections
Terrell Library Suite 12
Pullman, WA
Telephone: 509-335-6691
Access Restrictions

This collection is open and available for research use.


Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Gisèle Freund was born December 19, 1908, in the Schoneberg district of Berlin, Germany, to Jewish parents who had a passion for collecting art. Her father’s gift of a camera to the fifteen-year-old Gisèle set the course of her life. During her university years in Frankfurt, where she studied sociology, Freund took an active political stand against National Socialism. Forced to flee Germany in 1933, she landed in Paris with little more than a suitcase containing her camera and some photographic documentation of Nazi violence. At the Sorbonne her doctoral studies emphasized the history of nineteenth century French photography. Her friendship with Adrienne Monnier, the proprietress of La Maison des Amis des Livres bookshop (which published her dissertation) provided Freund with access to the literary elite of Paris.

The exigency to make a living led Freund to photography as a serious vocation. Life magazine published some of Freund’s early projects in the mid-1930s. Other significant commissions from that period include the dust jacket photographs for the first hard cover editions of Andre Malraux’s Man’s Fate (1935) and James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake (1939). In 1939, Freund had her first private showing at the Peggy Guggenheim Gallery in London. In 1940, Freund fled Nazi-occupied Paris, first to southern France and then to South America, where she continued her photographic assignments throughout the war. In 1947, she began a seven-year association with Magnum, the photographic news agency established by Robert Capa and others, including Henri Cartier-Bresson. Freund’s first public exhibition was in 1975 in New York, at the Robert Schoelkopf Gallery. Three years later, Freund was awarded the photokina Kulturpreis, and she was the first woman to receive the Grand Prix National des Arts in 1980. Gisèle Freund died in Paris on April 1, 2000.

Along with her documentary reportage, Freund is best known for her photographic portraits, many of them in color which, she said, came closer to life, including studies of some of the greatest literary and artistic figures of the twentieth century. This list includes James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, George Bernard Shaw, H.G. Wells, Leonard and Virginia Woolf, Andre Malraux, Jean Cocteau, Marcel Duchamp, and Henri Matisse.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The Gisele Freund Papers consist primarily of correspondence and book reviews relating to her American publications that appeared in print between 1980 and 1985.

Series 1, Publishing Projects and Correspondence, 1975-1990, consists of material relating to her published work, including correspondence between Freund and Joan Daves, her American literary agent, Freund’s introduction to Three Days with Joyce (1985), and other material relating to publishing rights, royalties, and contractual matters.

Series 2, Photographs, 1933-1974, includes prints, proofs and mock-ups, chiefly relating to the publication of her photography books and photographic exhibitions.

Series 3, Printed Material, 1968-1985, contains selected writings by and about Freund.

Series 4, Biographical and Provenance Material, 1982-2000, includes clippings and copies from encyclopedia entries.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

Copyright restrictions may apply.

Preferred Citation

[Item description]

Gisèle Freund Papers, 1933-1990 (Cage 678)

Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, Washington State University Libraries, Pullman, WA.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


The organizational arrangement of this collection has been imposed by the archivist, and consists of four series arranged in chronological order.

Custodial History

Prior to resale and purchase, this material was in the possession of Joan Daves’s family (Joan Daves was Freund’s American literary agent).

Acquisition Information

Washington State University Libraries purchased this collection of Gisèle Freund Papers from dealer George Robert Minkoff in 1999.

Processing Note

This collection was processed by Stephen Youngkin and Robert N. Matuozzi

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Series 1: Publishing Projects and General Correspondence, 1975-1990Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Subseries 1.1: Gisele Freund, Photography and Society
Box Folder
1 1
Correspondence relating to rights and royalties.
Subseries 1.2: Gisele Freund, Photographer
Box Folder
1 2
Correspondence relating to contractual matters.
1 2
Agreement between Harry N. Abrams, Inc. and Gisele Freund.
1 3
Publicity review list.
1 3
Book reviews.
Subseries 1.3: Gisele Freund, Three Days with Joyce
Box Folder
1 4
Correspondence regarding publication of Three Days with Joyce.
1 5
Gisele Freund, Preface to Three Days with Joyce.
1 5
Richard Ellman, James Joyce in 1939, introduction to Three Days with Joyce.
1 6
Book reviews.
1985, 1990
1 6
Miscellaneous materials; description of project, list of photographs and descriptions, advertisement, clippings.
Box Folder
1 7
Correspondence between Gisele Freund and Joan Daves.

Series 2: Photographs, 1933-1974Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
1 8
Gisele Freund, Catalog of 102 contact prints with carbon table of contents listing each photograph and date taken. Prints include numerous portraits of: Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, Andre Malraux, Simone de Beauvoir, Man Ray, W.H. Auden, Samuel Beckett, Andre Breton, Andre Gide, Colette, Marcel Duchamp, Paul Eluard, Jean-Paul Sartre, Jean Cocteau, Henri Matisse, T.S. Eliot, Leonard Woolf, Henri Michaux, David Siqueiros, Andrienne Monnier, Sylvia Beach, Max Ernst, G.B. Shaw, J.B. Priestley, Diego Rivera, Henry Moore, Herman Hesse, Stephen Spender, Christopher Isherwood, Paul Valery, Elsa Triolet, Simone De Beauvoir, Pierre Bonnard, Vita Sackville-West, Georges Mathieu, Ivan Illich, Aleksandr Isaevich Solzhenitsyn, Marguerite Yourcenar, John Steinbeck, Philippe Soupault, Eugene Ionesco, Le Corbusier, Samuel Beckett, Jose Clemente Orosco, Iris Murdoch, Ivy Compton Burnett, Rosamund Lehmann, Christopher Fry.
1 9
Gisele Freund, The Searching Eyes, approximately 13 proofs and mock-ups of various sizes.

Series 3: Printed Material, 1968-1985Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
1 10
Les Grand De La Litterature Reveles Par Leur Visage, Paris MatchApril 20, 1968, No. 993.
1 10
Gisele Freund, Camera, November, 1978.
1 10
Photographs of Personalities and Places by Gisele Freund (New York: Sidney Janis Gallery, 1979).
1 11
Gisele Freund. Il Mondo Il Mio Obiettivo (Milan: La Tartargua edizioni, 1984), a catalogue and history of Freund's work.
1 11
Gisele Freund, Photographer (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1985), partial proof of the book with dust wrapper and signature of 16 full-page photographs laid in.

Series 4: Biographical and Provenance Material, 1982-2000Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
1 12
Biographical sketches from miscellaneous periodicals and encyclopedias in English, German and French language, exhibit program with list of photos (1982), New York Times obituary, April 1, 2000; invoice and accompanying correspondence.

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Photographers
  • Photographers -- Correspondence
  • Photographers -- Europe -- 20th century
  • Photography, Artistic

Personal Names

  • Freund, Gisèle -- Archives