Guide to the Gisele Freund Papers 1933-1990
Cage 678

Summary Information

Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, Washington State University Libraries
Freund, Gisele
Gisele Freund Papers
Cage 678
Date [inclusive]
1.0 container.
General Physical Description note
.5 linear feet of shelf space.
Chiefly correspondence and reviews relating to photography books published in U.S. between 1980 and 1985.

Preferred Citation note

[Item Description]. Cage 678, Gisele Freund Papers. Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, Washington State University Libraries, Pullman, WA.

Return to Table of Contents »

Biographical/Historical note

While Gisele Freund’s birthdate is cited as either 1908 or 1912, it is certain she was born in the Schoneberg district of Berlin, Germany, to wealthy 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 again 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. Though a naturalized French citizen, Freund fled occupied Paris in 1940, 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 awared the  photokina Kulturpreis, and she was the first woman to receive the Grand Prix National des Arts in 1980. Gisele 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. Before photographing her subjects, she worked to earn their confidence by establishing a rapport with them. Her ability to capture the "essence of beings through their expressions" earned Gisele Freund the reputation of being one of the world's greatest photographers.

Return to Table of Contents »

Scope and Contents note

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

Return to Table of Contents »

Arrangement note

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

Return to Table of Contents »

Administrative Information

Publication Information

Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, Washington State University Libraries © 2001
Terrell Library
P.O. Box 645610
Pullman, WA, 99164-5610

Conditions Governing Access note

This collection is open for research use.

Custodial History note

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

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

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

Return to Table of Contents »

Controlled Access Headings


  • Photography, Artistic


  • Photographers
  • Photographers -- Correspondence
  • Photographers--Europe --20th century

Personal Name(s)

  • Freund, Gisèle--Correspondence--Archives


  • Arts and Humanities
  • International Relations
  • Literature
  • Photographs
  • Publishers and Publishing

Return to Table of Contents »

Collection Inventory

Series 1: Publishing Projects and General Correspondence 1975-1990 

Subseries 1.1: Gisele Freund, Photography and Society 1980 


Correspondence relating to rights and royalties. 1985-1986 

1 / 1

Subseries 1.2: Gisele Freund, Photographer 1985 


Correspondence relating to contractual matters. 1984-1990 

1 / 2

Agreement between Harry N. Abrams, Inc. and Gisele Freund. 1985 

1 / 2

Publicity review list. 1985 

1 / 3

Book reviews. 1985-1986 

1 / 3

Subseries 1.3: Gisele Freund, Three Days with Joyce 1985 


Correspondence regarding publication of Three Days with Joyce. 1975-1990 

1 / 4

Gisele Freund, Preface to Three Days with Joyce. 1982 

1 / 5

Richard Ellman, James Joyce in 1939, introduction to  Three Days with Joyce. 1982 

1 / 5

Book reviews. 1985, 1990 

1 / 6

Miscellaneous materials; description of project, list of photographs and descriptions, advertisement, clippings. 1982-1985 

1 / 6

Correspondence between Gisele Freund and Joan Daves. 1985-1990 

1 / 7

Return to Table of Contents »

Series 2: Photographs 1933-1974 


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. 1933-1974 

1 / 8

Gisele Freund, The Searching Eyes, approximately 13 proofs and mock-ups of various sizes. undated 

1 / 9

Return to Table of Contents »

Series 3: Printed Material 1968-1985 


Les Grand De La Litterature Reveles Par Leur Visage, Paris MatchApril 20, 1968, No. 993. 1968 

1 / 10

Gisele Freund, Camera, November, 1978. 1978 

1 / 10

Photographs of Personalities and Places by Gisele Freund (New York: Sidney Janis Gallery, 1979). 1979 

1 / 10

Gisele Freund. Il Mondo Il Mio Obiettivo (Milan: La Tartargua edizioni, 1984), a catalogue and history of Freund's work. 1984 

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. 1985 

1 / 11

Return to Table of Contents »

Series 4: Biographical and Provenance Material 1982-2000 


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. 1982-2000 

1 / 12

Return to Table of Contents »