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Wilhelm Maywald - Gifted Gallery

Wilhelm "Willy" Maywald, born 15 August 1907, was a German photographer who was best known for his portrait and fashion photography.

Wilhelm Maywald by Florence Henri

Maywald was born in Kleve, Germany to a family of hoteliers. He grew up becoming interested in the aesthetics of art. Maywald studied at the Technical Schools of Art in Krefeld, Cologne and Berlin. It was his wide range of education that would lead him to become an avant-garde artist in his photography.

After school, Maywald returned to this hometown in 1931 but soon realized that the city was too small for the career he wanted for himself. He then moved to Paris where he began his career of photo reporting and befriending other modern artists. He chose to live a bohemian lifestyle and photographed various subjects such as artists and dancers. He became an assistant to Harry Meerson who was a Polish photographer and started to learn from Meerson how to make a living from photography.

Maywald moved to Switzerland in 1942 and was held captive in camps for foreigners. In the year of 1943 he was allowed to start working again in portrait photography as a self-employed artist. When he moved back to Paris in August 1946 he mainly focused on fashion and celebrity photography.

He photographed for various fashion designers and his images were recognised internationally. Maywald was known for photographing in unique scenes. He was one of the first fashion photographers to photograph his subjects in the streets of Paris.

He had a way of photographing his subjects in these various visual places and scenarios but the image still focused on the model/clothing. He became Christian Dior’s elite photographer and very well known for his black and white photography and stunning lighting.

Maywald's photographs were featured on the covers of several magazines including Vogue and Vanity Fair. Maywald photographed for several fashion designers throughout his peak and became the main photographer for Dior.

Although mostly working in fashion photography, he also produced images of celebrities. Many of these celebrities were artists including Tamara de Lempicka, Hans Arp, Georges Braque, Marc Chagall, Le Corbusier, Fernand Léger, Joan Miró, Georges Rouault and Maurice Utrillo. Maywald retired in 1968.

Wilhelm Maywald died 21 May 1985 in Paris, aged 78. He is best remembered for his striking fashion photography.



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