Exhibitions: Youth and Beauty: Art of the American Twenties

Nickolas Muray: Gloria Swanson

One popular trope that emerged during the twenties to suggest a beautiful woman’s depth was to represent her holding her face, masklike, in her hands, as if to signal the simultaneous acts of self-invention and containment. In this captivating image of the young Gloria Swanson, the portrait photographer Nickolas Muray recorded the sultry perfection of the actress’s face as though it were held delicately in place by her sensuously bare shoulder and precisely placed hand.