'This print of Helmut Newton’s celebrated image Rue Aubriot, shot on August 4th 1975, is the unique engraver’s print that served for the origination of its first appearance in print, in French Vogue in September 1975. This is the earliest known print of what is today recognised as one of Newton’s most emblematic image.
The image’s sophisticated travesti plays elegant games with the blurring of male and female identities. Newton’s model Vibeke Knudsen is styled with sleek short hair and wears a beautifully tailored trouser suit by Yves Saint Laurent. The shot is taken at night by the light of the street lamps, bathing the scene in the atmospheric glow that Newton had so admired in the night shots of Brassaï. The rue Aubriot was the street on which Newton lived in a combined apartment and studio, at number 4.
The image, that takes its name from the location, is a perfect instance of Newton’s instinct to infuse the most polished elegance with elements of ambiguity and provocation. His intuition was also, as we see here with Rue Aubriot, to give credibility to the high artifice of his meticulously staged fashion shoots by staging them in authentic settings and using available light, giving his images a persuasive documentary feel.
As the specialist responsible for this print’s first appearance at auction in 1995, I am able to give a full account of its provenance and of the circumstances of its being signed by Newton. The print was made in August 1975 for the origination of the image, published in French Vogue in September 1975. It was sent from the Vogue archive to British author Charles Castle to originate an illustration for his book, Model Girl, published in published in 1977. The print remained in Castle’s possession until he consigned it to auction in 1995 (Photographic Images and Related Material, Sotheby’s, London, May 4th 1975, lot 184), where it was purchased by the present consignor. After the sale, I asked Newton, on the purchaser’s behalf, if he would be willing to sign the print. He said yes, he would, for a fee. The fee was agreed, the print annotated and signed in pencil by Newton. The print has remained in the same collection ever since. Today, a quarter of a century later, I am pleased to be able to put these details on record.' – Philippe Garner