Private collection, Santa Fe, 1986
Acquired by the present owner from the above
In Focus: Alfred Stieglitz (The J. Paul Getty Museum, 1995), pl. 26
O’Keeffe’s and Stieglitz’s romantic relationship was in first flower when this picture was made. The two had met in 1915, and then began a gradually intensifying correspondence that culminated in O’Keeffe’s move to New York City in June of 1918. Stieglitz’s consuming desire for O’Keeffe did not blind him to her talent as an artist or to the importance of her work. With the help of his brother Lee, Stieglitz set O’Keeffe up in her own sky-lit apartment/studio on East 59th Street, where she could pursue her painting without distraction, and without the burden of paying rent. It was there that he began to photograph her, as O’Keeffe later recounted, ‘with a kind of heat and excitement’ (O’Keeffe: A Portrait by Alfred Stieglitz, unpaginated). As O’Keeffe’s and Stieglitz’s relationship became more physical, the photographs became more intimate.
While eroticism and desire are present in these pictures, Stieglitz never failed to execute them with his characteristic technical and aesthetic skill. This dedication extended to the prints he produced, usually on palladium or platinum paper with a smooth matte surface and a long tonal range capable of rendering the subtlest shifts in texture and shade. The palladium print offered here is a prime example. A slight reversal of tones in the dark areas suggests that Stieglitz may have solarized the print very slightly during processing to enhance its dramatic affect.
In Alfred Stieglitz: The Key Set: The Alfred Stieglitz Collection of Photographs, Sarah Greenough locates only three examples of this image aside from the print offered here: at the National Gallery of Art, at the J. Paul Getty Museum, and in a private collection—all platinum prints.
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