Leica M2 black paint “Herbert List”, 1960

Leica M2 black paint “Herbert List”, 1960

Herbert List was born 1903 in Hamburg. He studied literature at the University of Heidelberg. In 1930 he met photographer Andreas Feininger and began taking portraits of friends and shooting still lives, influenced by the Bauhaus and surrealist movements. He used male models, draped fabric, and masks along with double-exposures. In 1936 List left Germany and took up photography as a profession, working in Paris and London. He met George Hoyningen-Huene who referred him to Harper‘s Bazaar magazine, but List was unsatisfied with fashion photography. He turned back to still life imagery, producing images in a style he called „fotografia metafisica“, which pictured dream states and fantastic imagery, using mirrors and double-exposures. From 1937 to 1939 List travelled in Greece and took photographs of ancient temples, sculptures, and the landscape.
In 1941 he returned to Germany; but because one of his grandparents was Jewish he was not allowed to work professionally. In 1944 he was drafted into the German military, despite being of partly Jewish ancestry and gay. A trip to Paris allowed him to take portraits of Picasso, Jean Cocteau, Christian Berard, Georges Braque, Jean Arp, Joan Miró. After the war, he photographed the ruins of Munich, and he became art editor of Heute magazine. In 1951 List met Robert Capa, who invited him to join Magnum Photos. For the next decade he worked heavily in Italy. He was influenced by Henri Cartier-Bresson as well as the Italian neorealism film movement.
List got this Leica M2 in 1960 and he used it also for his famous book Napoli Herbert List Vittorio de Sica from 1962.

Black paint camera from the first batch of M2 with self-timer (nos. 1005101 - 1005350) in good original and perfect working condition, rear of the top plate engraved with the logo of Herbert List, ‘HL’ in frame. With a later Summicron 2/35 mm no.3116040 (used by Max Scheler, who took over the camera after Herbert List passed away in 1975). Base plate with all-black bottom-plate lock, and the original strap. Included: the German edition of his famous book Napoli Herbert List Vittorio de Sica of 1962 and a rare vintage print of a photograph of Naples, reproduced in this book.

Provenance: Herbert List & Max Scheler Estate.

Photo credit: © WestLicht Photographica Auction