Woman and Child in Hats, Cuzco

1970, Printed 1984
Selenium-toned silver photograph

Penn credit and Condé Nast copyright reproduction limitation stamps on mount’s verso.

Frame: 17 1/4 x 14 1/8 inches

Irving Penn’s “Woman and Child in Hats, Cuzco,” captured in 1970, emerges as a striking testament to his enduring fascination with ethnographic photography. Set against the backdrop of Cuzco, Peru, this photograph encapsulates the resilience, pride, and cultural heritage of its subjects.

At the forefront of the composition stands a woman, her posture exuding strength and confidence as she proudly places one hand on her hip. Beside her, a child stands hand-in-hand, a symbol of familial unity and continuity. Both figures are adorned in traditional Peruvian clothing, their attire reflecting centuries-old customs and craftsmanship.

Despite their barefootedness, the woman and child are adorned with intricate hats, each hat serving as a distinctive marker of their cultural identity. Penn’s keen eye for detail captures the exquisite craftsmanship and vibrant colors of these traditional garments, evoking a sense of reverence for Peru’s rich cultural heritage.

In “Woman and Child in Hats, Cuzco,” Penn masterfully encapsulates the essence of Peruvian life, transcending mere documentation to convey the enduring spirit of its people. Through his lens, he celebrates the resilience and beauty found amidst the everyday lives of individuals who continue to uphold their traditions in the face of modernity.

This photograph serves as a poignant reminder of Penn’s commitment to capturing the diversity and richness of human experience. By immortalizing moments of quiet dignity and cultural pride, Penn invites viewers to reflect on the interconnectedness of humanity and the enduring legacy of tradition.