U of S | Mailing List Archive | alt-photo-process-l | Re: Pond-moonrise

Re: Pond-moonrise

Katharine Thayer wrote:
Okay, on my page I've replaced the cropped jpeg from the blog with the uncropped jpeg of the same print, directly from the auction catalog, and now we have for sure the three prints: (1) the print that belonged to the Metropolitan and was auctioned for $2.9 million, gum over platinum; (2) the print that still belongs to the Met, platinum with applied color, (3) the print that belongs to MOMA, identified as platinum and ferroprussiate.


Now, where the heck were we....oh yes, we were discussing whether Steichen may have used a reversed negative for the blue in the sky for (3) or even for (1). Geesh,

On Mar 17, 2009, at 2:38 PM, Katharine Thayer wrote:

Funny, I should have actually looked at the link from the auction catalog before I answered your post, except that it mattered less to me what picture was in the auction catalog as that you were saying that the image at the bottom of my page was probably the auctioned print, which I knew absolutely to be incorrect.

But now that I've actually looked at the picture from the auction catalog, it is so evident that they are different pictures, that I'm surprised that you thought they might be the same, and the image at the top of my page is so obviously the same as the image in the auction catalog, that I'm surprised you thought they were different. Yes, the blogger, or someone, cropped the uninteresting foreground off (I actually think it's a better image with that cropped off) and there's perhaps a slight difference in the darkness of the two reproductions, but I'm sure it's the same print.

So, that mystery is solved, and for the purpose of our discussion here, I will replace the cropped image from the blog with the actual image from the auction catalog, for the short time that this page will be up. Thanks for alerting me to the existence of this image; odd that it didn't come up when I googled for images of this print.

On Mar 17, 2009, at 12:46 PM, Jean Daubas wrote:


Thanks for showing us the 3 prints side by side but I'm not sure of your conclusions.
In fact, the bottom 3rd print that you think is often shown by error as the "record auction" print is probably really the auction print.
I give you the link to the February 2006 Sotheby's auction catalogue where Steichen's "the Pond - Moonlight" was lot # 6, sold 2,928,000 USD .


the illustration and the measurements clearly show that the 1st print you put on your page (found on a blog) is not the one which was sold at Sotheby's : it is far more rectangular than the actual one. By respect for Edward Steichen's memory, i reall hope no one dared to crop the original mage ???

You will find on this catalog page a very extensive description of the print and its sister prints as well as some interesting indications about Steichen's workflow...

hope it helps to clear the issue,
cheers from France,
Jean Daubas, auteur-photographe
16 rue de Bourg-Sec
25440 LIESLE (France)
+33 (0)3 81 57 50 13 et +33 (0) 681 531 289

----- Original Message ----- From: "Katharine Thayer" <kthayer@pacifier.com>
To: <alt-photo-process-l@usask.ca>
Sent: Tuesday, March 17, 2009 8:04 PM
Subject: Pond-moonrise (was: Re: Steichen image in April's 'Vanity Fair'

Judy wrote:

However, on the topic of those "Moon Over Mamaroneck" AND the Flatiron building prints (tho one or more of them could be Stieglitz & I'm too harried today to check, in fact I'm not really here at this moment)... I've tried to figure out how the blue sky was printed in, with no other sky tone, and decided that there were likely 2 negatives, either one positive & one negative, of one much contrastier than the other....

Any info?

Judy, I agree with you on both counts: (1) that Steichen's pictorialist photographs were much more beautiful and interesting than his "straight" photographs, and (2) that it looks like the blue tone in the sky, especially in the pond print where the blue was printed with cyanotype, just about had to be printed in with a positive "negative" in order to get that much tone. You've got a good eye.

I did that once, when I wanted a glow of golden light between the trees in a forest shot; I printed the golden color in with a reversed negative; there wasn't any way to get that much tone between the trees using the original negative.

Whether this is what Steichen actually did we can only speculate, because AFAIK all Steichen's negatives are still in the possession of, and under the tight control of, Joanna Steichen.

God (in the form of the aforenamed woman herself) may strike me dead for this, but I've made a page with reproductions of all three of the prints (I hope) of this image, so we can compare them and evaluate the validity of your observation. I'm not so sure it's accurate with the first print, the gum over platinum; I think maybe this was printed from just the negative. What do you think? But the bottom one, the cyanotype over platinum, it seems pretty certain to me that the cyan is printed with a reversed negative. I don't know if MOMA has analyzed this print the way the Met has analyzed theirs, but since I don't know otherwise, I'm taking on faith that they know for sure that this is cyanotype over platinum and not hand-applied color over platinum. I'd be willing to bet big bucks that he simply colored in the moon (notice that he didn't think to color in a reflection of it in the water).

Look quick, because this page will self-destruct in a few days. I'm hyperventilating already at the thought that I actually did this, even though it's all for a good cause.


As for the Flatiron, that doesn't seem quite as clearcut to me, and besides there are so many copies of that image (mostly reproductions from a copyneg made from the original gum print) that it's almost impossible to say which one we're talking about. The Met alone has five versions of it, I think, and the version they show on their website doesn't correspond by date and description to any of the ones listed in the catalog of the Stieglitz collection, so it's all pretty confusing. But would you say it's probably true of this one?



the actual $2.9 million print?

Very interesting O.T. I would only like to add that I don't own any of these and if I did I wouldn't auction it off, but donate it to the list member who can reproduce or duplicate the guy with cigar with just Pl and Cyano.