Lot 120
  • 120

Edward Weston

200,000 - 300,000 USD
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  • Edward Weston
  • Nude on Sand 
  • Gelatin Silver Print
mounted, signed and dated in pencil on the mount, 1936


Christie's Los Angeles, 13 November 2001, Sale 9832, Lot 190


Conger 929 (inverted horizontally)

Edward Weston: Nudes (Aperture, 1973), p. 86

Theodore E. Stebbins, Jr., Weston's Westons: Portraits and Nudes (Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 1989), pl. 53

Theodore E. Stebbins, Jr., Karen Quinn, and Leslie Furth, Edward Weston: Photography and Modernism (Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 1999), pl. 74

Manfred Heiting, ed., Edward Weston (Cologne, 2004), p. 156

Kurt Markus, Dune: Edward & Brett Weston (Kalispell, 2003),  p. 59


This bravura early print, with an excellent tonal range and neutral appearance, is mounted to slick board. Exceptional detail is visible throughout the image, from fine grains of sand clinging to the sitter's body to her individual strands of hair. The photograph is in overall excellent condition. Under very close inspection, there are a few nearly indiscernible deposits of retouching, a tiny red dot along the extreme upper right edge, and a pin-point sized, transparent matte deposit at the center right. On the mount, there is a small light brown stain, possibly a liquid deposit, near the signature. There are scattered, faint deposits and scuffs overall. The mount is slightly unevenly trimmed along the upper right edge and is very gently wavy. The reverse of the mount is inscribed 'LOU YATES' in an unidentified hand in ink. There are a few scattered minor deposits, scuffs, adhesive remnants, and abrasions on the reverse, none of which affect the front or the image.
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

In 1936, Edward Weston made his now-famous series of nude studies of Charis Wilson on the sands of Oceano, California.  The photograph offered here is one of the scarcest images from this group.  Weston authority Amy Conger notes that two versions of this image exist.  When the Project Prints were made in the early 1950s, the negative was flipped horizontally so that Charis’s head was oriented on the right of the image.   The present photograph represents the original orientation, with Charis's head at left, and it is exceedingly rare.  It is believed that only one other early print of this image has appeared at auction, sold in these rooms in 2007.

Weston's first photographs of the massive sand dunes at Oceano, near Pismo Beach and San Luis Obispo, were made in 1934 when he visited the area with fellow photographer Willard Van Dyke.  In 1936, Weston revisited Oceano with his lover and eventual wife, Charis Wilson.  The couple stayed there several days in an abandoned guest cabin, sharing meals with a group of squatters, known as 'Dunites.'  Weston's principle objective was to photograph the area's remarkable sand dunes, and he set out each morning with his unwieldy large view camera, tripod, and a case of loaded film holders.  It was on this trip that he produced what are arguably his best-known landscapes.

This excursion also yielded the portraits of Charis on the dunes that are among Weston's most important, modernist nude studies.  In his photographic career up to 1936, Weston had already produced a significant number of nude studies, the overwhelming majority of which were made in the studio. It was not until reaching Oceano with Charis in 1936 that Weston was inspired to produce an extended series of outdoor nude studies.  In the best of these images, the evenly illuminated nude form, delineated by a thin relief of shadow, is offset perfectly by the balanced mid-tones of the sand background.  In the photograph offered here, an exceptional level of detail is visible on Charis’s frame, notably individual grains of sand coating her spine and feet.

Edward Weston authority Amy Conger notes that there are two copies of the variant (with Charis’s head on the right side of the composition) located at the Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena, California and a Project Print in the Special Collections, University of California, Santa Cruz.