Lot 30
  • 30

Paul Outerbridge, Jr.

50,000 - 70,000 USD
Log in to view results
bidding is closed


  • Paul Outerbridge, Jr.
  • still life of eggs in a pie tin
platinum print, mounted, signed and dated by the photographer in pencil on the mount, annotated '68.29.65' in an unidentified hand in pencil on the reverse, matted, framed, 1923; accompanied by an old backing board with a Laguna Beach Museum of Art, label and three letterpress or typed descriptive labels affixed to the reverse


Collection of Lois Cunningham Outerbridge, the photographer's widow

Laguna Art Museum, gift of the above, 1968

Christie's New York, 3 October 1996, Sale 8482, Lot 286

Acquired by the present owner from the above


Paul Outerbridge: A Singular Aesthetic, Photographs and Drawings, 1921-1941, Laguna Beach Museum of Art, November 1981 - January 1982, and traveling to ten other venues


Elaine Dines and Graham Howe, Paul Outerbridge: A Singular Aesthetic (Laguna Beach Museum of Art, 1981, in conjunction with the exhibition), pl. 19 (this print)

Another print of this image:

Manfred Heiting, ed., Paul Outerbridge (Köln, 1999), p. 42


This photograph is in generally excellent condition. There is sunning on the mount at the periphery of the debossed border which surrounds the image. On the reverse, there are very minor, soft handling creases visible at the right side of the mount. There is brown paper tape at the edges, and remnants of an old stamp in the upper left quadrant. There is a 2 1/4-inch section of parchment, possibly from an old mount, in the upper left quadrant which contains minor foxing, but which does not affect the image. The reverse of the old backing board is in generally good condition. It appears that a number of old labels have been removed from the upper right quadrant of the reverse of the board, and three printed or typed labels remain.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

Paul Outerbridge, Jr., one of the most imaginative and technically-innovative photographers of his day, can be credited with creating the conventions of the modern studio still life.  The print offered here demonstrates not only Outerbridge's skill in lighting, arranging, and composing his images, but also his mastery of the platinum printing process. Still Life of Eggs in a Pie Tin shows the photographer's ability to create a compelling composition that transcends its quotidian subject matter—a talent that benefited both his commercial and personal work. 

Clearly intrigued by the compositional possibilities presented by eggs, Outerbridge made a number of still life studies with them in the 1920s (Dines, A Singular Aesthetic, pls. 1 and 4, and figs. 141, 142, 264, and 265).  Still Life of Eggs in a Pie Tin is an excellent early example of this interest, and in it he creates a harmonious composition from seemingly discordant elements.  The eggs are set diagonally and off-center within the picture frame.  The rounded forms of the eggs, and the pie tin in which they sit, are offset by the right-angled table edge. The shiny metallic finish of the pie tin provides a tactile counterpoint to both the dark wooden table and the cloth in the background.   While Outerbridge's deft handling of lighting and composition is comparable to that of Edward Steichen (Outerbridge's contemporary, and a chief competitor), his evocative rendering of these domestic objects carries an emotional content similar to the still-life work of Czech photographer Josef Sudek.    

The photograph's wide array of subtle gray and black tones is expertly rendered by Outerbridge in the platinum print process.  Although the First World War made platinum scarce, Outerbridge felt strongly that his photographs were most successfully printed on platinum paper.  For this reason, he printed even the best of his images in very limited quantities.  This print is believed to be unique. No other prints of this image were in the photographer's estate at the time of his widow's gift to the Laguna Museum in 1968.