The image is striking, no wonder it became famous. This exquisite woman catches your eye, one of those high-cheeked WASP beauties men were raised to revere and women were raised to emulate—then envy. She soaks regally in a bathtub, her shoulder luridly exposed, the tub shielding the rest of her body. The scene is intimate, familiar, yet alluring: you see soap dishes, washcloths, faucets, a bathmat, the usual white grouting.
But you start processing anomalies. Amid this seemingly middle-class, mid-20th century setting, there’s an aristocratic surprise: a small nude marble sculpture supervising the bather. It gets weirder. Eddies of dirt have blackened some of the bathmat, and the culprit is clear. This delicate model was wearing two combat boots standing in the foreground, with mud caked on their heels.
To the woman’s right, an official portrait of Adolf Hitler slouches on the bathtub’s ledge, providing the punchline. Lee Miller, a former model and ace wartime photographer, is in Adolf Hitler’s bathtub, in Munich on April 30, 1945, the day he killed himself.
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