Lot 24
  • 24

Edward Weston

150,000 - 250,000 USD
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  • Edward Weston
  • PEPPER (NO. 30)
  • Signed, dated, and editioned 25-50 in pencil on the mount; partial signature in pencil and annotation in ink on the reverse
  • Gelatin silver print
  • 9 1/2 x 7 1/2 inches
mounted, signed, dated, and editioned '25-50' in pencil on the mount, with partial signature by Weston in pencil and annotation by Tullah Hanley in ink on the reverse, framed, 1930


The photographer to T. Edward Hanley

By descent to his wife, Tullah Hanley, 1969

Gift of Tullah to Allegheny College, 1974

Christie's New York, 27 April 2004, Sale 1367, Lot 91

Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York, 2006


Conger 606

Merle Armitage, Art of Edward Weston (New York, 1932), p. 5

Nancy Newhall, ed., The Flame of Recognition: Edward Weston (Millerton, 1997), p. 35

Nancy Newhall, ed., The Daybooks of Edward Weston, Volume II, California (Millerton, 1973), cover and pl. 5

Beaumont Newhall, Supreme Instants: The Photography of Edward Weston (Boston, 1986), cat. 150

Theodore E. Stebbins, Jr., Karen Quinn, and Leslie Furth, Edward Weston: Photography and Modernism (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1999), frontispiece and pl. 38

Sarah M. Lowe, Dody Weston Thompson, et al., Edward Weston: Life Work; Photographs from the Collection of Judith G. Hochberg and Michael P. Mattis (Revere, 2003), pl. 43


This print of Weston’s now-iconic ‘Pepper No. 30’ delivers an extraordinary level of detail throughout and broad range of tonality. The luminous highlights where the light hits upon the curvature of the pepper are rendered with brilliant clarity without sacrificing the depth and fine details of the dark background of the tin funnel. This print is on semi-glossy paper and is in essentially excellent condition. In raking light, faint, age-appropriate silvering is visible in the dark areas. When this print is examined closely, several discrete indentations are visible at various points, none of which break the emulsion, and a superficial, thin, curvilinear mark in the central portion of the image is barely perceptible in raking light. This print is trimmed to the image and there is minor sporadic chipping at the edges. This photograph is on Weston’s customary white slick board mount, which has been trimmed to an overall dimension of approximately 10 ¼ by 8 ½ inches. Weston’s characteristically bold signature, date, and edition number are written right below the image. There is some minor soiling on the front of the mount, most notably along the top edge. The upper left mount corner is creased, which does not affect the image. Abrasions to the top paper-ply and yellowed glue staining on the reverse of the mount suggest that this photograph was previously removed from a secondary mount. Small losses to the top paper-ply partially obscure notations on the reverse.
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

The photograph offered here, Weston’s iconic Pepper No. 30, is from a series of thirty pepper studies made by the photographer over an intensive four days in the summer of 1930.  Pepper No. 30 was immediately one of Weston’s favorite and most sought-after pepper studies.  For Weston, this photograph represented a definitive step forward in the evolution of his work. 

Weston describes this series in the 8 August 1930 entry in his Daybooks: ‘It is a classic, completely satisfying, – a pepper – but more than a pepper: abstract, in that it is completely outside subject matter.  It has no psychological attributes, no human emotions are aroused: this new pepper takes one beyond the world we know in the conscious mind. . . . My recent work more than ever indicates my future’ (California, p. 181). 

Unlike the pepper studies of 1929, Pepper No. 30 and others made during the summer of 1930 fill the 8x10-inch negative nearly to the point of abstraction.  Weston captures the details of the undulating bell pepper, with its curves, smooth skin, and hint of decay, with brilliant clarity.  Whereas previous peppers had been placed on a plinth, against burlap, or in bowls, Weston placed these new peppers in a tin funnel, which provided not only a curving, undefinable background, but also refracted lighting. 

This photograph comes originally from the collection of art patron, book collector, and energy tycoon Thomas Edward Hanley (1893-1969), who first met Weston in Carmel in 1939.  The pair corresponded over the next 15 years, during which Hanley acquired prints for his collection.  After Hanley’s death, his widow, Tullah, donated this and a selection of other Weston prints in 1974 to Allegheny College, who in turn offered a group of these photographs at auction in 2004.