To her sister, Anita O’Keeffe Young
'The Female of the Species Achieves a New Deadliness: Women Painters of America Whose Work Exhibits Distinctiveness of Style and Marked Individuality,' Vanity Fair, July 1922, Vol. 18, p. 50
Barbara Buhler Lynes and Russell Bowman, O'Keeffe's O'Keeffes: The Artist's Collection (Milwaukee Art Museum and Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, 2001), p. 15
While Stieglitz and O’Keeffe first met in 1915, it was not until the following year that Stieglitz became acquainted with her work and the two began an intensive and intimate correspondence. Stieglitz’s increasing desire for O’Keeffe did not blind him to the importance of her art. In April 1917, Stieglitz gave O’Keeffe her first solo exhibition and No. 15 Special was among the 23 works shown. At the time of the opening, Stieglitz wrote to O’Keeffe, ‘I’m glad that your work is at 291 – when I’m with it it seems to prop me up – makes me forget so much that is hideous – and a deep reverence for something very wonderful invariably over comes me –‘ (10 April 1917, quoted in Greenough’s My Faraway One: Selected Letters of Georgia O'Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz, pp. 133-4).
The photograph offered here was originally in the collection of Anita O’Keeffe Young, O'Keeffe's sister and the well-known socialite and wife of railroad magnate Robert R. Young. An enthusiastic collector of her sister’s art, Anita also acquired a few of Stieglitz's most poignant portraits of O'Keeffe and likely received the present photograph in the late 1920s. Notations in Stieglitz’s hand on the reverse of the mat list the address of ‘Mrs. R. R. Young’ as ‘601 W 113 St,’ where the Young family resided at the time of the 1930 United States Federal Census. The New York Social Register locates Anita and Robert shortly thereafter at 720 Park Avenue.
The present photograph is further distinguished by its accompanying original frame, created by Stieglitz’s favored framemaker, George F. Of, whose label (inscribed ‘Young’ in pencil) is affixed to the frame’s paper-backing. George Of worked with Stieglitz, Georgia O’Keeffe, and other artists in the Stieglitz circle from the 1910s through the 1940s.
In Alfred Stieglitz: The Key Set, Sarah Greenough locates at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D. C., a palladium print and a gelatin silver print made from this negative (Greenough 472 and 473). Greenough locates only two other prints of this image, both gelatin silver prints, in institutional collections: one at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; and the other at the Milwaukee Art Museum. The present photograph is the only known print of the image in private hands.
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