Maureen Gallagher and a night feeder at Hog Ranch, February, 1987 is a seminal image from Peter Beard’s career that strikingly combines his dedication to the animals of the African wilderness with his talents for working with the top fashion models of the era. The image reimagines the classic trope of ‘beauty and the beast’ through Beards unique vantage point, shot on location at Hog Ranch, the artist’s cherished studio and residence in Kenya.
The model in the image, Maureen Gallagher, recently described the whirlwind experience that led to the photograph in an article published by Vogue, revealing that she met Beard through her friend Grace Jones at a Manhattan nightclub and was invited the very next day to join the photographer in Kenya to work on his movie Last Word from Paradise and pose for a series of photographs.
‘On what turned out to be my last night at Hog Ranch, at about 2:30 in the morning, we’d been planning a nude photo with giraffes—but they hadn’t come around to eat for a while and we thought we’d lost the chance to shoot the image that became Night Feeder. Sitting by the campfire, waiting to go to the airport and leave Kenya, I had a very heavy heart. Then, when the giraffe walked into camp, Peter calmly said, “This is it, folks. Maureen, get ready.” My heart went from melancholy to beating out of my chest…I was scared and in awe of the towering beast. I’d never felt so alive.” (Maureen Gallagher, “Peter Beard Remembered: The “Girl in the Giraffe Photo” Looks Back’, Vogue, April 28, 2020)
The present lot exemplifies Beard’s lifelong commitment to live in harmony with his surroundings and spread awareness of man’s impact on nature. As recounted by Gallagher, Beard was ready to pass up the photo-op rather than provoke the giraffes in any way, an attitude that undoubtedly lead to some of Beard’s greatest interactions with wildlife. The resulting image from that night continues to induce the same awe Gallagher felt that very night and stands as a testament to the incredible skill and vision from Beard.