Lot 33
  • 33

Alfred Stieglitz

800,000 - 1,200,000 USD
770,500 USD
bidding is closed


  • Alfred Stieglitz
  • Georgia O'Keeffe -- Hands and Thimble
  • Gelatin silver print
  • 9½ by 7½ in. (24 by 19 cm.)
warm-toned, flush-mounted, mounted again, framed, Buhl Collection and Guggenheim Museum exhibition labels on the reverse, 1919, probably printed in the 1920s or early 1930s


The estate of Alfred Stieglitz

Georgia O'Keeffe, the photographer's widow

Doris Bry, New York, 1993


New York, Guggenheim Museum, Speaking with Hands: Photographs from The Buhl Collection, June - September 2004, and 4 other international venues through 2007 (see Appendix 1)

West Palm Beach, Norton Museum of Art, A Show of Hands: Photographs and Sculpture from the Buhl Collection, January - March 2008

Seoul, South Korea, Daelim Contemporary Art Museum, Speaking with Hands: Photographs from The Buhl Collection (Asian tour), March - May 2009, and 2 other Asian venues through 2011 (see Appendix 1)


Jennifer Blessing, Speaking with Hands: Photographs from The Buhl Collection (Guggenheim Foundation, 2004), pp. 12 and 249 (this print)

Greenough 566 (inverted)

Waldo Frank, Lewis Mumford, et al., America and Alfred Stieglitz (New York, 1934), pl. 30D

Doris Bry, Alfred Stieglitz: Photographer (Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 1965), pl. 20

Dorothy Norman, Alfred Stieglitz: An American Seer (Aperture, 1973), pl. xxxiii

Georgia O'Keeffe, Georgia O'Keeffe: A Portrait by Alfred Stieglitz (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1978), pl. 20

John Szarkowski, Photography Until Now (The Museum of Modern Art, 1989), p. 242

Anne E. Havinga, Karen E. Haas, and Nancy Keeler, MFA Highlights Photography (Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 2008), p. 62

Catalogue Note

Throughout Alfred Stieglitz’s multi-decade, multi-image photographic portrait of Georgia O’Keeffe, the painter’s mobile and expressive hands are often a focal point. Stieglitz made photographs of O’Keeffe’s hands throughout their time together, from two studies made shortly after their meeting in 1916 (Greenough 459 and 460) to O’Keeffe’s hand delineating the curve of a spare tire in 1933 (Greenough 1515 and 1519).  Even as his relationship with O’Keeffe grew more intimate, and the portrait project progressed to studies of her semi-nude, and then nude, Stieglitz never lost his fascination with her hands.  In a passionate 1918 letter to O’Keeffe, Stieglitz imagined her presence and wrote, ‘I see arms & hands stretched out to the skies—seeking to hold—all of love—firmly—passionately—wildly—ecstatically—deliriously’ (quoted in Greenough, My Faraway One, Vol. 1, p. 304).

The hands of an artist have been prime subjects for photographers over many decades (cf. Lots 182, 194, 308, and 315 in the present catalogue).  It is significant, however, that while Stieglitz photographed a number of other artists in his circle, their hands rarely, if ever, play as important a role in these compositions as they do in his photographs of O’Keeffe.   Supple and strong, O’Keeffe’s hands were capable, as photographed by Stieglitz, of a vast emotional repertoire.  Even engaged with the domesticity of a needle, thread, and thimble, her hands’ sensuality cannot be denied.  This is further heightened by the bravura quality of the Buhl print, which is rendered with Stieglitz’s characteristic mastery.

In Alfred Stieglitz: The Key Set: The Alfred Stieglitz Collection, Sarah Greenough locates 11 prints made from this negative.  All of these prints, except for the print offered here, are palladium or palladium-platinum prints, in public or private institutions: in the Stieglitz Collections at The National Gallery of Art, Washington, D. C.; The Art Institute of Chicago; the Beinecke Library, Yale; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Philadelphia Museum of Art; San Francisco Museum of Art; and the National Museum of Art, Tokyo.   There is also a print in The Museum of Modern Art, New York, and one in the Ydessa Hendeles Art Foundation in Toronto.  The Buhl Collection print, a gelatin silver print, is the only print of the image in private hands.