Baron George Hoyningen-Huene (September 4, 1900 – September 12, 1968) was a fashion photographer of the 1920s and 1930s. He was born in the Russian Empire to Baltic German and American parents and spent his working life in France, England and the United States.
Born in Saint Petersburg, Russia on September 4, 1900, George Hoyningen-Huene was the only son of Baron Barthold Theodor Hermann (Theodorevitch) von Hoyningen-Huene (1859-1942), a Baltic nobleman, military officer and lord of Navesti manor (near Võhma), and his wife, Emily Anne "Nan" Lothrop (1860-1927), a daughter of George Van Ness Lothrop, an American minister to Russia. He had two sisters. Helen (died 1976) became a fashion designer in France and the United States, using the name Helen de Huene. Elizabeth (1891-1973), also known as Betty, also became a fashion designer (using the name Mme. Yteb in the 1920s and 1930s).
During the Russian Revolution, George Hoyningen-Huene's family estates were confiscated by the government and the family fled first to London, and later to Paris.
Since his early childhood, George Hoyningen-Huene showed his interest in art like painting and ballet, and Paris nourished his love of art. He studied painting with French cubist painter André Lhote(1885-1962) whose student included the polish painter Tamara de Lempicka.
But the young George Hoyningen-Huene was thirsty for more, and was increasingly fascinated by the new art form - cinema, which was born in Paris. He liked it so much that he even offered himself as extras in some films. It was from films that he learned the dramatic lighting which he would later used on his photography.
Eventually his love of visual art and French haute couture landed him jobs in French Vogue. He first worked as photographer's assistant, but a few years later, by 1925 George had worked his way up to chief of photography of the French Vogue where he was mentor to up-and-coming photographers including François Tuefferd.
In 1930 he met Horst P. Horst, the future photographer, who became his lover and frequent model. Influenced by George Hoyningen-Huene, Horst P. Horst later also became photographer, and he began his association with Vogue, publishing his first photograph in the French edition in November 1931
In winter of 1931, they traveled to England together. While there, they visited photographer Cecil Beaton, who was working for the British edition of Vogue.
In 1935 Hoyningen-Huene moved to New York City where he did most of his work for Harper's Bazaar. But he did not enjoy the same success he had while working with French Vogue.
A few years later, Hoyningen-Huene relocated to Hollywood, where he worked much less in fashion photography, but rather earned his living by shooting glamorous portraits for Hollywood stars and other celebrities. Some of the subjects photographer by him included hollywood film stars like Ingrid Bergman, Greta Garbo, Katherine Hepburn, Ava Gardner, Cary Grant, Gary Cooper, Charile Chaplin, James Cagney, artists such as painter Salvador Dali, ballet dancer Felia Doubrovska, writer Janet Flanner, and composers Kurt Weill and Igor Stravinsky, and celebrities including Duke of Windsor, Gloria Vanderbilt, Lady Mendl, etc.
Besides portrait photograph, Hoyningen-Huene also worked in various capacities in the film industry. He had worked closely with George Cukor, notably as special visual and color consultant for the latter's first Technicolor film, the 1954 Judy Garland movie A Star Is Born. He served a similar role for the 1957 film Les Girls, which starred Kay Kendall and Mitzi Gaynor, the Sophia Loren film Heller in Pink Tights, and The Chapman Report.
He was also a teacher. He started teaching at University of California since 1947 until the time of his death.
George Hoyningen-Huene died of heart attach at 68, in Los Angeles.
Profoundly influenced by art, both classic and surreal art, and French cinema, George Hoyningen-Huene developed his own unique style of photography which is elegant, yet dramatic and mysterious. Some of the most distinguished Vogue photographers such as Irving Penn, Horst P. Horst, Richard Avedon were all influenced by his style.
Although died at young age, George Hoyningen-Huene has left a great legacy behind him, in the form of a large archive of fashion and portrait photographes which still mesmerize us today, as well as several books he wrote about visual art and beauty of various cultures.