Lot 6
  • 6

Paul Outerbridge, Jr.

70,000 - 100,000 USD
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  • Paul Outerbridge, Jr.
  • eggs and bowl
platinum print, mounted, signed and dated by the photographer in pencil on the mount, the original tissue overleaf adhered to the top edge on the reverse, matted, 1922


G. Ray Hawkins Gallery, Los Angeles, agent for the Paul Outerbridge, Jr., Archive

Robert Miller Gallery, New York

Acquired by a private collector, New York, from the above, 1983

Edwynn Houk Gallery, Chicago, 1987

Acquired by the Quillan Company from the above, 1989


Jill Quasha, The Quillan Collection of Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Photographs (New York, 1991), pl. 11 (this print)

Other prints of this image:

Graham Howe, G. Ray Hawkins, and Jacqueline Markham, Paul Outerbridge, Jr.: Photographs (New York, 1980), p. 40

Elaine Dines and Graham Howe, Paul Outerbridge: A Singular Aesthetic (Laguna Beach Museum of Art, 1981, in conjunction with the exhibition), pl. 4

Manfred Heiting, ed., Paul Outerbridge, 1896-1958 (Köln, 1999), p. 30


This stunning platinum print is in excellent condition, and its subtle modulation of white, gray, and black tones attests to Outerbridge's complete mastery of the platinum printing process. It is affixed to a large paper mount that has some minor soiling and discoloration. The original tissue overleaf is present, hinged to the top edge of the reverse of the mount.
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, 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 of Eggs and Bowl offered here demonstrates not only Outerbridge's skill in lighting, arranging, and composing his images, but also his mastery of the platinum printing process.   Made at the outset of his career, in the same year as his iconic Ide Collar (Howe, p. 35), Eggs and Bowl shows the photographer's early refinement of his talent, and his ability to create a compelling composition that transcends its quotidian subject matter.  

Intrigued by the compositional possibilities presented by eggs, Outerbridge made a number of still-life studies with them in the early 1920s (cf. Dines, A Singular Aesthetic, pls. 1 and 15, and figs. 141, 142, 264, and 265).  Eggs and Bowl is among the earliest, and is the most adventurous, of these compositions.  In it, Outerbridge's meticulous control of the light simultaneously reveals the eggs' perfection of form and the minute imperfections in their surfaces.  Outerbridge's clever composition places the eggs, in their round ceramic bowl, off-center within the picture frame.  These circular shapes are offset by the inclusion of the right-angled table edge in the upper part of the frame.  The image highlights Outerbridge's skill in drawing together disparate elements into a complex and harmonious composition. 

This 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.  Aside from the print offered here, there are five other known prints of Eggs and Bowl, including those in the collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the J. Paul Getty Museum, the second originally in the collection of Sam Wagstaff.  Three additional prints have appeared at auction: two offered at Christie's New York, on 23 April 1996, and on 9 October 1997; and one offered in these rooms on 25 April 2001, in a sale of Photographs from The Museum of Modern Art.