Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Request to view at the Prints & Drawings Study Room, level C , Case MB2A, Shelf DR79

The Pool - Evening

Photograph
1899 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Edward Steichen used a plate camera to take this image. He wrote that he focussed on the foreground, which he would have been able to view on the ground glass at the back of the camera. The woods in the background would have been too dark for him to see on the ground glass and so he would have had to estimate at what aperture (the size of the opening through which light passes into the camera) to set the camera in order that the dark background could be seen. The out-of-focus style of the photograph is typical of Steichen’s early work and representative of the suggestive, rather than literal, quality of Photo-Secessionist photography.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Gelatin-silver print
Brief Description
19thC; Steichen Edward, The Pool, Evening, Milwaukee,1899
Physical Description
Black and white photograph of reflections in a pond. Leaves float on the water's surface. Blurred masses of trees are in the background.
Dimensions
  • Height: 34.7cm
  • Width: 27cm
Style
Historical context
Edward Steichen's photography received its first critical acclaim in 1899 when two of his photographs were shown in the 2nd Philadelphia Salon. The following year Steichen went to New York, en route to Paris, to show his paintings and photographs to Alfred Stieglitz, who bought three of his photographs. Steichen and Stieglitz were to have a strong collaborative friendship for almost fifteen years in which time they were two of the founding members of the Photo-Secessionist group, promoting photography as an artistic medium. They also brought the work of European artists such as Matisse and Picasso to an American audience at the '291' gallery in New York which Stieglitz set up in 1905. In 1902 Steichen had set up a portrait studio in New York. It had been very successful but by 1906 he was finding the work unchallenging and he returned to Paris where he lived until the outbreak of war in 1914. He developed new areas of his work in Paris such as fashion photography. On his return to New York in 1914 Steichen's relationship with Stieglitz began to sour. They disagreed strongly on the future of the '291' gallery and also the involvement of America in the war. Steichen joined the US Army Signal Corps which was responsible for taking aerial photographs of enemy territory and movements in France. After the war, Steichen abandoned the Symbolist style of his earlier photographs.



'I began to reason that, if it is possible to photograph objects in a way that makes them suggest something entirely different, perhaps it would be possible to give abstract meanings to very literal photographs. I made many photographs exploring the idea.'



Edward Steichen, A Life in Photography, London, 1963



Steichen was producing photographs with a high level of detail showing, for example, close ups of plant forms and still-life objects with a Modernistic feel. Initially Steichen continued to use natural light in his photographs, but gradually he began to use artificial studio lighting for his commercial work. In 1947 the Museum of Modern Art created the position of director of the department of photography which was then given to Steichen. He remained in the post until 1963.
Subjects depicted
Summary
Edward Steichen used a plate camera to take this image. He wrote that he focussed on the foreground, which he would have been able to view on the ground glass at the back of the camera. The woods in the background would have been too dark for him to see on the ground glass and so he would have had to estimate at what aperture (the size of the opening through which light passes into the camera) to set the camera in order that the dark background could be seen. The out-of-focus style of the photograph is typical of Steichen’s early work and representative of the suggestive, rather than literal, quality of Photo-Secessionist photography.
Bibliographic Reference
Taken from Departmental Circulation Register 1967
Collection
Accession Number
CIRC.964-1967

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record createdFebruary 23, 2004
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