SHORPY Historic Photo Archive & Fine-Art Prints
The Shorpy Archive
9000+ fine-art prints suitable for framing. Desk-size to sofa-size and larger, on archival paper or canvas.
Join and Share

Support Shorpy

Shorpy is funded by you. Help by purchasing a print or contributing. Learn more.

Social Shorpy


Join our mailing list (enter email):

Member Photos

Photos submitted by Shorpy members.

Colorized Photos

Colorized photos submitted by members.

About the Photos

Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

© 2019 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

JUMP TO PAGE   100  >  200  >  300  >  400  >  500  >  600

Night and Day: 1947

Night and Day: 1947

"Portrait of Billie Holiday at the Downbeat club, New York, ca. February 1947." Medium format negative by William Gottlieb. View full size.

        I especially tried to capture personality, but that's an elusive quality, and I was successful only a portion of the time. But I certainly hit it on the button here with a picture of Billie Holiday, whose voice was filled with anguish. I also tried to catch the beauty of her face -- she was at her most beautiful at that particular time, which was not too long after she had come out of prison on a drug charge. She couldn't get at any drugs while she was incarcerated, or alcohol, and she lost weight and she came out looking gorgeous, and her voice was, I think, at its peak. And I was fortunate enough to have spent some time with her during that period, and I caught this close-up of her in a way that you could really see the anguish that must have been coming out of her throat.

-- William Gottlieb, 1997

To stay online without a paywall or a lot of pop-up ads, Shorpy needs your help. (Our server rental alone is $3,000 a year.) You can contribute by becoming a Patron, or by purchasing a print from the Shorpy Archive. Or both! Read more about our 2019 pledge drive here. Our last word on the subject is: Thanks!

The best

If I could only listen to one musician/group for the remainder of my life, it would be Billie Holiday.

Gotta wonder ...

what patrons at the Downbeat Club thought when they saw that bruise (?) on her arm. Love the old jazz singers and instrumentalists, but I have to wonder whether too much of that beautiful music was caused, so to speak, by bruises like that.

Party Bill

I naively thought that William Gottlieb only took sedate pictures of boutiques and modernist houses. This recent series of jazz singers and 52nd Street scenes shows a whole other side of him. He had his finger on the pulse of the city!

[You're confusing Sam Gottscho with Bill Gottlieb. - Dave]

Gee, you're right, sorry! Although there was a rumor Sam liked an occasional sarsaparilla.

SHORPY OLD PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

Syndicate content RSS | Contact Us | Privacy Policy | Photo Use | © 2019 Shorpy Inc.