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Original photograph inscribed by Hemingway to Adolphe Lévêque, head bartender aboard one of the author's favourite luxury ships, the Île-de-France.

Availability: In stock

Published: Peru May 1956

Stock Code: 132874

OR On display in 43 Dover Street


A striking original photograph taken during the filming of the cinematic adaptation of The Old Man and the Sea, depicting Hemingway surrounded by a crew of seven men hoisting an imposing marlin, inscribed by Hemingway to Adolphe Lévêque, "Tout le monde Travaille sic, Ernest Hemingway Peru Mai 1956", in ink across the recto.
In April 1956 Hemingway, a technical advisor to the adaptation directed by John Sturges, joined the production team in Peru, where they had travelled in search of Santiago's great marlin. Cuba had been a disappointment - those fish sighted were neither large nor lively enough - and so attention turned to Cabo Blanco, where some of the great marlin of the world were known to sport. After 32 days fishing they were eventually satisfied with the footage they had managed to capture (though, ironically, none would be used in the final cut) and Hemingway and his wife Mary were back in Cuba by 23 May. On 1 September they boarded the Île-de-France for Europe.
Several photographs from Hemingway's lightly-documented time in Peru have become legendary, particularly those showing the author proudly displaying his catch. The present is inscribed to Adolphe Lévêque (1902-1975), the head bartender on the SS Île-de-France, the first modern ocean liner. Hemingway made seven voyages on the Île-de-France from 1930 until his last crossing in 1957, favouring the ship for its famous art deco flair, its excellent Parisian food, and its extensive wine list. It was on the Île-de-France that Hemingway met Marlene Dietrich, Humphrey Bogart, and many other artists and stars who, like him, regularly crossed the Atlantic aboard the luxury ship: Raoul Dufy, Judy Garland, Cary Grant, and Rita Hayworth, to name a few. In a letter to Jane Mason of 12 November 1932 (sold Christie's 1999) he affectionately refers to it as "our old dinghy", and he paid homage to it in his novel Islands in the Stream (1970), a posthumously published work written around the time of this inscription. "During the crossing towards the east on the Île-de-France, Thomas Hudson learnt that hell did not necessarily look the way Dante or the great painters described it, but that it could be a comfortable boat, pleasant and much appreciated, taking you towards a country which you are always approaching with impatience".
Hemingway's high regard for the ship must also have stemmed from the conviviality of its cocktail lounge and its expert mixologists, which were "very popular at sea, especially with American passengers who were unable to (legally) obtain alcohol on land during Prohibition" (Batchelor, p. 69). The Île-de-France also boasted the longest bar on any ship at the time. Lévêque was, therefore, not only a crew member aboard Hemingway's favoured liner but also a friendly face which Hemingway associated with the ship's popular watering hole.
In an unpublished letter of 21 May 1956 - offered at Christie's in 2007 alongside seven photographs of the same Peru trip - Hemingway wrote to the German photojournalist Modeste von Unruh Balas-Piry who had accompanied him for part of the way, "Thank you so much for the truly fine pictures that you sent. I wish you could have been with us all the time with your beautiful camera and your good luck. You were very good about the ocean and it was a great pleasure to have you with us I would like to order some of the other pictures for the crew and myself, but you must let me pay for them. Would you let me know how much they cost?"
The present photograph is therefore almost certainly also the work of von Unruh, one of a selection produced in small numbers for Hemingway and the crew. A few other inscribed examples from the same shoot in Peru have appeared on the market - a second inscribed to Lévêque, that reading: "À mon vieux et cher ami Adolphe Lévêque"; one inscribed to famed restaurateur Toots Shor, "To Toots, small edible fish from his pal Ernie Hemingway" (RR Auction 2016); another "To J. C. De Clairmont from his and Wheerler's friend, Ernest Hemingway" (RR Auction 2013).

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Original landscape format black and white photograph (101 x 152 mm).


In fine condition.


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