Skip to main content

Lynes, George Platt, 1907-1955



  • Existence: 1907 - 1955


George Platt Lynes was born on April 15, 1907 to Joseph Russell and Adelaide Sparkman Lynes in East Orange, New Jersey. He attended the Berkshire School, where Lincoln Kirstein was among his classmates. Considered inadequately prepared for college, George was sent to Paris, in the care of family cousins, Kate and Walter Hardy, with the goal of improving his basic prepatory subjects. In the heady milieu of literary Paris, he made the acquaintance of Réne Crevel and Gertrude Stein, with whom he began a decade-long correspondence. (see: YCAL MSS 76, Box 115, folder 2406 and YCAL MSS 77, Box 10, folder 136a).

Lynes eventually entered Yale University in the Fall of 1926, though he attended for only a single semester. A move to New York allowed Lynes to further his contact with the literary world he had been introduced to in Paris In January, 1927, he met the publisher Monroe Wheeler and his partner, the writer, Glenway Wescott. Over the next fifteen years, Lynes' emotional life centered around Wheeler and Wescott, with whom he maintained a succession of households in France and the United States. His search for a metier saw him explore writing and bookselling before he eventually found his aesthetic through the facility of the camera. His first informal portraits were done in the late 1920s, but soon he found himself an official society photographer, contributing to significant museum shows, magazines, and having his own one-man exhibitions. He became well-known for his fashion photography and eventually was made the head of Vogue magazine's West Coast studio in Los Angeles in 1946, where he moved following several years of emotional upheaval in his personal life, which included his break from Wescott and Wheeler.

Lynes returned to New York in 1948, but found he was no longer in demand for his commercial fashion work. Instead, he focused on his private interests, male nudes, and documenting productions of the New York City Ballet. His change of fortune, which included a bankruptcy filing in the early 1950s, ended with a diagnosis of lung cancer. He died in New York City on December 6, 1955.

Found in 11 Collections and/or Records:

Black and white photograph of Marianne Moore, undated

 Item — Box 124: accession 19 [Barcode: 39002093690650]
Call Number: YCAL MSS 838, accession 19

Black and white photograph of T. S. Eliot, undated

 Item — Box 124: accession 19 [Barcode: 39002093690650]
Call Number: YCAL MSS 838, accession 19

Joseph Brewer papers

Call Number: YCAL MSS 641
Abstract: The collection contains correspondence, writings, and photographs. Correspondence includes autograph and typescripts letters from Harold Acton, Iris Barry, Charles Fisk, Katherine Anne Porter, John Strachey and others. There is a small amount of outgoing letters among the correspondence. Writings include autograph manuscript and typescript drafts and printed versions of writings by Brewer, including "20th Century Typography in the Netherlands." Photographs include ones by Milton Horn and...
Dates: 1922-1979

Mary Butts papers

Call Number: GEN MSS 487
Abstract: The Mary Butts Papers consist of writings, correspondence, and other papers of the British writer Mary Butts, as well as papers of her daughter Camilla Rodker Bagg and other family members, and the research files and drafts of writings about Butts of several researchers. The papers span the years 1830 to 1990, but the bulk fall between 1915-37. They are organized into three series: Papers of Mary Butts, ...
Dates: 1830-1990, bulk 1915-1937

Ruth Ford papers

Call Number: YCAL MSS 847
Scope and Contents: The collection consists of Ruth Ford's correspondence with and topical and production files relating to plays of Edward Albee, Kenward Elmslie, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, James Purdy, Tennessee Williams, and others. Also included are scripts of works submitted to her for her review and/or plays and screenplays in which she acted including plays by Mart Crowley, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and Tennessee Williams; stage and film production stills and candid and portrait photographs; and printed...
Dates: 1935-1999

Jared French papers

Call Number: GEN MSS 732
Abstract: Collection contains correspondence, photographs, and other materials documenting the life and career of painter Jared French and a circle of friends and collaborators. Correspondence with individuals and cultural institutions, chiefly museums and galleries, document French's personal and professional affairs, with significant representation from members of the literary and artistic and gay male communities in New York during the middle decades of the twentieth century. In addition to large...
Dates: 1921-1990

George Platt Lynes diaries and memorabilia

Call Number: YCAL MSS 147
Abstract: The George Platt Lynes diaries consist of diaries and datebooks which record his activities and thoughts, starting with a journal of Lynes' first trip to Europe in 1925 and ending with entries in a pocket datebook just weeks before his death in 1955. Though his early and later years are well documented, there are no diaries for the years 1931-1941. Accompanying the diaries are a few odd pieces of personal memorabilia, including a notebook of dinners given during the early 1940s and printed...
Dates: 1921-1955

George Platt Lynes scrapbooks

Call Number: YCAL MSS 139
Abstract: Two scrapbooks, with loose pages and items, containing clippings, original photographic prints (by Lynes and others, including PAJAMA and Brassai), postcards, and reproductions of artworks. These volumes document Lynes's focus on photographic design elements and his developing aesthetic in his early years. Among the subjects represented are: Royal families; athletes; popular musical and film performers (with numerous images of Johnny Weismuller and Marlene Dietrich); nude models; Pavel...
Dates: circa 1900-1955

Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas papers

Call Number: YCAL MSS 76
Abstract: The Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas Papers contain manuscripts of writings, letters, clippings, photographs, artworks, and personal papers relating to the life and work of Gertrude Stein and her companion, Alice B. Toklas, and to Gertrude's brother, Leo Stein, an artist and writer. As well as holding the bulk of Stein's literary output (often described as "experimental" or "cubist" writing), the materials document Stein and Toklas' involvement with the literary and art...
Dates: 1837-1961

Glenway Wescott papers

Call Number: YCAL MSS 134
Abstract: The Glenway Wescott Papers consist of correspondence, journals, notebooks, manuscripts, personal and financial papers, research files,photographs, graphic items, clippings, objects, and audiotapes. The material documents Wescott's life, work, and personal relationships with many noted artists, writers, and performers of the 20th century including his long-time companion, Monroe Wheeler, many of whose papers are included here.Series I, Correspondence, consists of six subseries:...
Dates: 1900-1990

Monroe Wheeler papers

Call Number: YCAL MSS 136
Abstract: The Monroe Wheeler Papers consist of correspondence, manuscripts,personal and financial papers, photographs, graphic items, clippings, and objects which document Wheeler's life and work, principally at the Museum of Modern Art.Series I, Correspondence, contains letters found in Monroe Wheeler's archive following the processing of the Glenway Wescott Papers (YCAL MSS 134), which holds the majority of letters to and from Wheeler. Series II. Writings, gathers together material from...
Dates: 1890-1995

Additional filters

Collection 9
Archival Object 2
Photographic prints 6
Diaries 4
Americans -- France -- History -- 20th Century 3
Scrapbooks 3
American literature -- 20th century 2