The Eternal Body
The Eternal Body

Ruth Bernhard

The Eternal Body

A Collection of Fifty Nudes

Centennial Edition

Image dimensions: 12.25" x 12"

Pristine condition

certified authentic
The Eternal Body
The Eternal Body



Outstanding… the greatest photographer of the nude. – Ansel Adams

Ruth Bernhard worked in photography with a quiet perseverance for over fifty years. Like many brilliant women artists of her generation, she was widely acclaimed by her peers, yet remained largely unknown to the general public. In her private quest to “simplify, isolate and give emphasis to form with greatest clarity,” she passionately created a collection of images which rank her among the most profound and significant photographers of the nude. Bernhard’s intense, studied camera has produced images of the human form that clearly transcend the boundaries between the spirit and the flesh. While surrendering none of their beautifully sensual or tactile character, each one is serenely isolated and illuminated to suggest the spirit within the form. These radiant photographs contain a classic purity and a sense of the eternal, making each one a timeless masterpiece of the human figure.

The Eternal Body presents for the first time a collection of Bernhard’s finest nudes in a single, elegantly bound monograph. Many of the photographs in this volume have never been exhibited and the addition of important unseen work unveils for the first time the full range of Bernhard’s brilliance. This historic volume unfolds before the viewer an extraordinary array of fifty master photographs, revealing a unique and personal vision of the human body that transcends the physical.

The first edition of The Eternal Body, published by Photography West Graphics, Inc. in 1986, sold out immediately after its release. Carol Williams of Photography West Graphics, guided the original 1986 edition to completion. Her belief in Ruth Bernhard’s artistic contribution was the impetus for bringing these images to the public. This “Centennial Edition” is a limited deluxe edition of 1000 copies created in celebration of Ruth Bernhard’s 100th birthday, October 14, 2005. Of the 1000 copies, 100 were slipcased, autographed by the artist and numbered. Megan Greer of Chronicle Books collaborated with Photography West Graphics to honor Ruth Bernhard with the special release of this edition.

David Gray Gardner, Kevin Broady, and their excellent crew enthusiastically applied their expertise in fine book printing to both the Centennial and original editions. Their commitment to excellence has satisfied such masters of photography as Ansel Adams and Brett Weston, whose work they printed for many years. They unique laser Fultone® process was used for both volumes.

Margaretta Mitchell long valued the contribution made by Bernhard to the study of the nude and welcomed the opportunity to write for this book. Carol Williams and Mary Ann Helmholtz, longtime assistant to Bernhard, contributed editorially to the final text.

Michael Kenna, photographer and assistant to Bernhard, made the gelatin silver photographs from her negatives used for reproduction.

Max Silten, designer of this book, had known Ruth Bernhard for many years. He was a student and assistant to her father, Lucian Bernhard, an experience which shaped much of his career and vocation as a graphic artist.

As a tribute to Lucian Bernhard, the typeface selected for this volume is Bernhard Modern. Designed in 1937 by Lucian Bernhard, this typeface was cast in metal by American Type Founders. For many years, it has been available only for hand composition. More recently, it was adapted by Mergenthaler from the original design for photo type setting. This development makes it possible to use these unique letter forms for extensive text pages. Type for the book was set by Frank’s Type in Mountain View, California.

This Centennial Edition was printed at Dual Graphics in Brea, California.

The paper used for the text is 80 lb. Lustro Offset Enamel cover. Endpapers are 80 lb. Rainbow Basketweave #917.

The hardcover edition was bound by Roswell Bookbinding in Phoenix, Arizona.

The original printing in 1986 was 5400 hardcover books, of which 375 copies plus 5 artist proofs were selected for special slipcased, autographed, numbered collector’s edition, accompanied by an original signed photograph by Ruth Bernhard.

ISBN: 9616515-1-2


New in shrink wrap. The HD Video of the actual work in question has been provided as a visual condition report.


Ruth Bernhard’s work can be found in most major museum collections throughout the world, including the George Eastman House, Museum of Modern Art in New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris. Her photographs have been shown internationally in major exhibitions and have also been widely published. In 1986, Photography West published an acclaimed monograph of her nudes entitled, The Eternal Body (Photography West Graphics, 1986), which received Photography Book of the Year from Friends of Photography and brought Bernhard widespread acclaim as a photographer of the nude.