• 0—12 700 000 HKD
  • 30 10月 1989— 9 5月 2017

'white angel bread line'

Flush-mounted, signed and dated ‘1933’ by the photographer in ink on the image, signed, titled, and annotated ‘2706 Virginia St, Berkeley, California’ by the photographer in ink and titled in an unidentified hand in pencil and with the Museum’s label and accession number in an unidentified hand in blue pencil on the reverse, 1933, printed no later than May 1936 This demonstrably vintage print of Dorothea Lange’s ‘White Angel Breadline’ was given to the Museum of Science and Industry by Lange herself in 1936.   In addition to soliciting photographs from the 1933 Century of Progress exhibition, the Museum also expanded its collection by surveying photographic annuals, choosing a range of pictures, and then contacting the photographers of those images for possible donation.  Among the annuals surveyed was Tom Maloney’s widely popular U. S. Camera. Museum records indicate that a number of photographs reproduced in the 1935 U. S. Camera held particular interest for the Museum, including Lange’s ‘White Angel Breadline.’  Lange was contacted, and although we do not have the specifics of her visit, we know that she personally brought a print of ‘White Angel Breadline’ to the Museum.  Museum files contain a copy of a letter to Lange from Museum director, O. T. Kreusser, dated 18 May 1936, which reads in part: ‘Dear Miss Lange: ‘On my return to Chicago, I learned with regret that I had missed your visit to the Museum.  It would have been a pleasure to have had the opportunity to show you, in more detail, how this new project in public education is being carried on.  However, Mr. Mayford tells me that he did what he could to make your visit interesting in the short time at your disposal. . . . ‘Your print, “White Angel Breadline,” has now been duly registered in the Museum’s rapidly growing collection of fine photographs.  Your generous cooperation is cordially appreciated.' In choosing Lange’s ‘White Angel Breadline’ for its collection, the Museum demonstrated remarkable foresight. Taken in 1933, during San Francisco’s depression years, the photograph depicts the dignity and isolation of poverty, as one man turns away from a breadline sponsored by a widow known in the community as ‘the White Angel.’  In 1935, when it was reproduced in U. S. Camera, the photograph, as well as the photographer, had not taken on the significant status they now both enjoy.  Indeed, Lange’s ‘Migrant Mother’ had been made only a few months before she visited the Museum in 1936, and was far from the world-famous icon it would later become. In 1934 and 1935, Lange was relatively little-known, working with Paul Schuster Taylor at the California Rural Rehabilitation Administration, and later with Roy Stryker at the F. S. A.   It was not the photographer’s reputation, but the undeniable impact of ‘White Angel Breadline’ that spoke to the readers of the 1935 U. S. Camera annual, including Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry.  By contacting Lange soon after the photograph appeared in U. S. Camera, the Museum was able to acquire at a very early date a superb print of one of Lange’s best and most important images.

  • USA
  • 2005-10-11

'the breast'

Warm-toned platinum print, tipped to a large buff-colored mount, signed, titled, and dated by the photographer in pencil on the mount, signed, inscribed ‘For Jack – remembering a gay party at Ito’s’ and dated ‘1923’ by the photographer in pencil on the reverse, matted framed, 1921   The subject of this rare, early nude study is the young Italian actress and photographer, Tina Modotti, who would later become Weston’s lover and partner during the photographer’s sojourn in Mexico in the 1920s. At the time of this writing, there are believed to be only three other prints of this image extant: in a private collection in California; one sold in these rooms on 16 October 1990 (Sale 6073, Lot 427); and one in the collection of the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D. C., donated by Weston himself in 1923.  Two of these prints, in the private California collection, and in the Smithsonian, are alternatively titled ‘The Source.’  A print of this image, bearing the title ‘The Breast’ was exhibited in the Camera Pictorialists of Los Angeles salon in 1921-22.  A print was also exhibited in 1923 at the Art Center in New York. When Weston visited Alfred Stieglitz in New York City in 1922, he showed the elder photographer a number of his prints, The Breast included.  According to a letter Weston sent to his friend, the photographer Johan Hagemeyer, Stieglitz was impressed by the image and said, ‘If I was still publishing Camera Work I would ask for The Source (Tina’s Breast)’ (Edward Weston on Photography, p. 37). This print offered here was originally given by Edward Weston to the painter John Taylor (1897 – 1983).  Taylor sold advertising for the Los Angeles Times, and studied under Stanton MacDonald Wright.  He moved to New York City around 1922 and married the painter Andrée Ruellan.  Taylor’s sister, Maude Emily Taylor, was a friend of Margrethe Mather and appears as the subject of a number of her photographs (cf. Beth Gates Warren, Margrethe Mather & Edward Weston: A Passionate Collaboration, pp. 45, 46, 51, and 52). Weston personalized the print offered here with a warm inscription on the reverse of the mount. While it is unknown who ‘Ito’ is, it is possible that the inscription refers to Michio Ito, a Japanese-born dancer who toured with Adolf Bohm’s dance company in the late 1910s and early 1920s.  Ito worked both in New York and Hollywood and was friends with Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn, and other members of the bohemian Los Angeles circle in which Weston, Mather, and Taylor were included. Sotheby’s wishes to thank Beth Gates Warren for sharing her information on John Taylor and this photograph.

  • USA
  • 2005-10-10

'balzac--the open sky'

Direct carbon photograph, signed and dated by the photographer in crayon on the image, mounted to thick board, signed and dated by the photographer in crayon, and with a printed numerical label on the reverse, matted, 1908 This powerful and imposing photograph of Rodin’s famous statue of Balzac was taken in the moonlight near the sculptor’s home at Meudon in October 1908.  Like ‘The Pond—Moonlight’ of Lot 6, the photograph offered here is believed to be one of only three prints of the photograph extant in this extraordinarily large size.  The photograph is a seminal image from an extensive series of studies the photographer made of the sculptor and his work, a series that includes not only other Balzac photographs, but also the famous double-negative study of Rodin posed in front of ‘The Thinker’ and other portraits of Rodin in a variety of processes, including gum prints, platinum prints, and autochromes.  Meeting Auguste Rodin (1840 – 1917) and seeing his work were the inspiration for the young Steichen’s first trip to Paris in 1900.  Passionate, deeply committed to his artistic ideals, and above all controversial, the sculptor represented for Steichen all that was potent and revolutionary in modern aesthetics.  Rodin became one of Steichen’s closest friends, a friendship that ended only with Captain Edward Steichen’s presence, as representative of the United States Army, at Rodin’s funeral in 1917.  Soon after meeting Rodin for the first time in 1901, Steichen became the sculptor’s anointed photographer and was paid prices for his photographs that were far in excess of any at that time. Steichen not only photographed Rodin, he also worked to promote the sculptor’s work in the United States, arranging for shows of Rodin’s drawings at the galleries of the Photo-Secession in 1908 and 1910, for instance, and collaborating with Stieglitz to create a special issue of Camera Work devoted to Rodin, his sculpture, and his drawings.  For his part, Rodin referred to Steichen as ‘mon fils.’ In his Life in Photography, Steichen remembered the first picture he saw of Rodin’s Balzac: a reproduction in a Milwaukee newspaper in 1898.  Even in a newspaper reproduction, Steichen recounted, the Balzac ‘seemed the most wonderful thing I had ever seen.  It was not just a statue of a man; it was the very embodiment of a tribute to genius.  It looked like a mountain come to life.  It stirred up my interest in going to Paris, where artists of Rodin’s stature lived and worked’ (Chapter 2, unpaginated).  That a statue of Balzac could make the news in Milwaukee was testament to the controversy created by Rodin’s sculpture at that time. Commissioned by the Société Gens de Lettres some years before, the Balzac was first introduced to the public as a plaster cast at the Salon Nationale des Beaux-Arts of 1898, where it generated an outcry.  As Steichen remembered, the statue ‘was called a monstrosity by some and by others a sack of flour with a head stuck on top’ (ibid., Chapter 2, unpaginated).  The statue was ultimately refused by the Société that had commissioned it, but Rodin, in a characteristically dramatic gesture, built his own pavilion outside the gates of the 1900 Exposition Universelle, and there displayed selected examples of his own work, including Balzac. It was to this pavilion that Steichen and his traveling companion Carl Bjorncrantz rushed on the very day they arrived in Paris in 1900.   At the pavilion, they saw not only the infamous Balzac, but also caught a glimpse of Rodin, ‘a stocky man with massive head, almost like a bull’s,’ as Steichen remembered in A Life in Photography.   Determined to meet Rodin and to photograph him, Steichen wrangled an invitation to the master’s studio in 1901, through a painter who knew Rodin, the Norwegian Fritz Thaulow, whose children Steichen had been asked to photograph.  Steichen and the Thaulows bicycled to Meudon one afternoon, where an initial meeting turned into an invitation to dinner, and then an evening that concluded with a review by Rodin of Steichen’s portfolio of photographs.  Impressed, and perhaps recognizing in the young Steichen the spirit of a fellow revolutionary, Rodin assented to Steichen’s request for a portrait sitting.  Thus began a long and fruitful relationship between the two artists: it is said that Steichen photographed Rodin more than any other sitter, and that Rodin and his work were photographed by Steichen more than by any other photographer.  In the double issue of Camera Work devoted to his art, Rodin wrote, ‘I consider Steichen a very great artist and the leading, the greatest photographer of all time’ (Number 34/35, 1911). In the fall of 1908, during Steichen’s third sojourn in France, Rodin invited him to photograph the controversial Balzac.  Dissatisfied with other pictures of the statue, Rodin worked with Steichen to create an image that he hoped would show the Balzac at its most powerful, more than merely a prosaic document of the statue’s mass and lines.  Rodin had some months before moved the sculpture from his studio to a specially-built revolving platform in his garden, and Steichen was able to observe the statue from all angles, at different times of day and night, in many permutations of light and weather.  According to the photographer’s autobiography, it was Rodin who suggested photographing the statue in moonlight.   Having spent years developing his talents for photographing in just such light, Steichen rose to the challenge.  ‘I immediately went out to Meudon to see it, and found that by daylight, it had a harsh, chalky effect,’ Steichen wrote in A Life in Photography. ‘I agreed with Rodin that under the moonlight was the proper way to photograph it, I had no guide to refer to, and I had to guess at the exposure. ‘I spent the whole night photographing the Balzac.  I gave varying exposures from fifteen minutes to an hour, and secured a number of interesting negatives. . . . ‘In the morning, at breakfast, when I lifted the napkin from my plate, I found two one-thousand franc notes.  This was four hundred dollars, a fabulous present for a night’s work!   . . . Instead of showing Rodin proofs, I immediately made enlarged negatives and commenced printing. ‘It wasn’t until a week or so later, when I had fine pigment prints, that I turned up to show them to Rodin.  The prints seemed to give him more pleasure than anything I had ever done.  He said, “You will make the world understand my Balzac through these pictures.  They are like Christ walking on the desert.” ‘When Stieglitz saw a set of the Balzac prints later, he seemed more impressed than with any other prints I had ever shown him.  He purchased them at once and later presented them to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. . . ‘During World War I, we had to leave my negatives behind, uncared for in our home in Voulangis when we left.  During the four years of the war, humidity and bacterial action destroyed the emulsions.  The plates were ruined’ (ibid., Chapter 4, unpaginated).   Weston Naef has pointed out that, as original prints of Steichen’s pre-1917 photographs exist in such few numbers, there were probably photographs at Voulangis that were destroyed as well (Naef, p. 458). In the spring of 1909, from April 21st to May 7th, the galleries of the Photo-Secession held a special exhibition of Steichen’s photographs of Balzac.  The centerpiece of the exhibition was the image offered here, flanked by two horizontal images.  In 1911, three photographs from the Balzac series, including the present image, were reproduced in Camera Work Number 34/35, the special issue devoted to Rodin and his art. The print offered here is believed to be one of only three extant prints, in this large size, of what is perhaps the most striking and dramatic image from the series.  It was recently analyzed by the conservation department of The Metropolitan Museum of Art and found to be a direct carbon print.  The print of the image which Stieglitz purchased directly from Steichen, referred to above and donated to the Metropolitan in 1933, has also been recently analyzed by the Museum’s conservation department, and it, too, is a direct carbon print.  In 1986, a third print in this size, catalogued, but not scientifically analyzed, as an olive-green pigment print, was sold in these rooms and is now in a private collection (Sale 5453, Lot 372, 12 May 1986).  For more information on this third print and its origins, see Beth Gates-Warren, Twenty Years of Photographs at Sotheby’s, a supplement to Sotheby’s New York catalogue for Sale 6684, April 1995.  A smaller print of this image, measuring roughly 6 by 8 inches, is in the collection of the Musée Rodin (reproduced in the Musée Rodin’s 1898: Le Balzac de Rodin, Paris, 1998, pl. 164, p. 409). The present print comes originally from the collection of Paul Burty Haviland (1880 - 1950), heir to the Haviland china dynasty and an amateur photographer (cf. Lot 12).  Appropriately, it was Haviland’s purchase of a Rodin drawing from the Photo-Secession galleries’ Rodin exhibition of 1908 that was his introduction to Alfred Stieglitz.   Haviland later became an important source of support for Stieglitz and personally underwrote the rent for the space at 291 Fifth Avenue when money was short.  Along with Marius de Zayas and Agnes Ernst Meyer, Haviland also funded the important arts publication edited by Stieglitz, ‘291’ (see Lot 1).

  • USA
  • 2006-02-15

'moonrise, hernandez, new mexico'

Mounted to Strathmore board, signed by the photographer in pencil on the mount, matted, 1941, printed in 1948 The print of Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico offered here is one of the very few prints Adams made of his most famous image in the 1940s.  Made in 1948, the year that Pirkle Jones acquired it from the photographer, this print exhibits the subtlety of tone and high level of detail in the sky that characterizes the handful of prints Adams made of the image before the turn of the decade. Adams made the 8-by-10-inch negative for Moonrise in the late afternoon of November 1, 1941, while photographing in the Southwest on behalf of the U. S. Department of the Interior and the U. S. Potash Company of New Mexico.  Driving back to their motel after an unproductive day of photographing, Adams and his companions – son Michael and fellow photographer Cedric Wright – passed the tiny town of Hernandez.  Struck by the quality of light upon the town and its attendant cemetery, Adams immediately pulled the car over to the side of the road and hastily assembled his equipment.  Drawing upon his vast reservoir of photographic expertise, Adams made his exposure in the dying light without the benefit of his light meter.  Before he had the chance to make a second exposure, the sun sank behind a bank of clouds, and the light changed completely.  A full account of the taking of Moonrise, and its subsequent printing history, appears in Mary Street Alinder’s Ansel Adams: A Biography (New York, 1996), to which this catalogue entry is indebted. The resulting negative, made quickly and under trying conditions, proved difficult to print.  In order to make a print from it that met his high standards, Adams had to expend a great deal of time and energy in the darkroom coaxing the image through the printing process.  Because of this, Adams made only a few prints of the image in the early 1940s.  One was made for his friend Beaumont Newhall, Curator of Photography at The Museum of Modern Art.  This print, now in MoMA’s collection, was used by Edward Steichen for reproduction in the 1943 U. S. Camera Annual.  Much handled over the years, the print is visibly worn.  Adams also made a print of the negative at David McAlpin’s request, and this is now in the collection of Princeton University Art Museum.  It is believed that there are two other early prints in private collections. Although Adams was reluctant to print the troublesome negative, by 1948 he had amassed a number of orders for it (most likely due to its publication in the Camera Annual).  Unwilling to toil further with the negative as it was, Adams undertook the harrowing step, in December of 1948, of reprocessing it.  After re-fixing and washing the negative, Adams submerged it up to the horizon line in Kodak IN-5 intensifier.  This increased the density in the image’s foreground making it comparatively easier to print.   That month, using his improved negative, Adams made a small number of prints, including the one offered here, owned by his assistant and friend, the photographer Pirkle Jones. Other prints made at this time include a print given by Adams to George Waters, inscribed and dated ‘1948’ by Adams on the reverse, now in the collection of the Getty Museum.  Another print, inscribed by Adams to Fred Ludekins, was offered in these rooms on 7 April 1998 (Sale 7112, Lot 101).  Adams sent a print to Beaumont Newhall and his wife Nancy, and this is now in a private collection.  Also in private collection is a print Adams made for a Mrs. Nichols. The tonal qualities of the few prints Adams made of Moonrise during the 1940s differ from those made later.  Early prints show numerous wispy clouds in the sky, in addition to a lustrous band of white above the mountains.   Adams printed this image with greater and greater contrast throughout his career, and his last prints show a dark black sky, differing radically from the more open, gray sky in the present print. Sotheby’s wishes to thank Andrea Gray Stillman for sharing her research on extant early prints of Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico.

  • USA
  • 2006-10-17