Showgirls: A Portfolio

Alfred Cheney Johnston’s sensual photographs of the Ziegfeld Follies

In 1917, after studying painting at the National Academy of Design in New York City, Alfred Cheney Johnston became an in-house photographer for Florenz Ziegfeld’s infamously ribald revue—the Ziegfeld Follies. Johnston’s classical training influenced the photographs he took of the Ziegfeld showgirls. He drenched the (mostly naked) gals in light and posed them in ways that evoked fine art portraiture. When Vanity Fair featured Johnston’s work in its pages, he became heralded as the era’s premier chronicler of female beauty. Here’s a sampling of Johnston’s stunning work.

Alfred Cheney Johnston photography, ziegfeld girl posing naked with pearls Alice Wilkie, ca. 1925

 

Alfred Cheney Johnston photography, ziegfeld girl posing with dress Dolores Costello, ca. 1923

 

Alfred Cheney Johnston photography, ziegfeld girl posing naked with head wrap Virginia Biddle, ca. 1927

 

Ziegfeld star - Anna Lee Peterson - by Alfred Cheney Johnston Anna Lee Peterson, ca. 1928

 

Alfred Cheney Johnston photography, ziegfeld girl posing naked with camera Dorothy Flood, ca. 1920

 

Alfred Cheney Johnston photography, ziegfeld girl posing naked with sword Katherine Moylan, ca. 1928

 

Alfred Cheney Johnston photography, ziegfeld girl posing naked with guitar Clara Bow, ca. 1925

 

Alfred Cheney Johnston photography, ziegfeld girl posing naked with vail Ruby Keeler, ca. 1925