Leica M3 black paint “Henri Cartier-Bresson”, 1960

Leica M3 black paint camera “Henri Cartier-Bresson”, 1960

This camera was owned and used by Henri Cartier-Bresson from end of 1960 until about 1968 when he gave it to Inge Morath. The inside of the back door has a numbering of the serial number by HCB’s handwriting including the initials “HB” by pencil with the same numbering on the base plate.
The late owner contacted Martine Franck in 2008 and she clearly identified HCB’s handwriting. This camera was delivered to a Connecticut Leica dealer in early 1960 when HCB visited Arthur Miller and then used it for shooting the movie Misfits in Nevada directed by John Huston, starring Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable and Montgomery Clift. It was the last movie of Monroe and Gable. The screen synopsis was written by Arthur Miller. The shooting started in August 1960 in Dayton, Nevada. Henri Cartier-Bresson and Inge Morath arrived in Dayton as the first photographers of nine which Magnum sent.

One day in the morning, Henri Cartier-Bresson was waiting for his first meeting with Marilyn Monroe. He put the camera on the chair Monroe was supposed to sit. She hesitated, but was soon interested in the shining black camera. HCB said “the camera is waiting for your blessing”. Finally, he got the blessing of her upon the camera. In the book The Misfits by Arthur Miller, a photograph by Inge Morath shows HCB with his M3 on page 69. Magnum photographer Ara Güler took a picture of HCB with this M3 and the Summicron in 1964. It is published in Ara Güler, Creating the 20th Century.

Photo credit: © WestLicht Photographica Auction