U of S | Mailing List Archive | alt-photo-process-l | Re: Pond-moonrise (was: Re: Steichen image in April's 'Vanity Fair'

Re: Pond-moonrise (was: Re: Steichen image in April's 'Vanity Fair'

Joe, I apologize for the incorrect attribution; it was Judy apparently who voted for MoMA's version of the print. My mistake, sorry.

The moonrise print you saw in Chicago is the one in the middle on my page, that now looks very brown (not just on my page but on the Met's site) although by all accounts it was originally handcolored with blue-green and yellow pigment over platinum. It puzzles me that it could have kept its color for 80 some years enough to be richly colored when you saw it in 1989, but have lost all its color in the last 20 years. That's why I wish someone could go see for themselves, if it really has faded to brown. But you wouldn't think the Met would represent it that way, if that's not how it is.

I can't of course know what you see on your monitor, but on my monitor the jpeg of the MoMA print looks exactly like the reproduction in "Steichen, the Master Prints" that I scanned it from, and also much like other images of that print that I've seen on the web, except maybe not so dark. Example (oddly, this gov site has this as belonging to the George Eastman House, but it's definitely the MoMA print):


It is much less photographic than the other two prints; it looks to me more like a chalk drawing than a photograph. However, not having seen the actual print, I can only judge from the reproductions I've seen.

On Mar 18, 2009, at 5:52 PM, Joseph Smigiel wrote:


You are attributing that quote incorrectly to me. I simply asked the question about the Chicago exhibition print.

IIRC, the Steichen print I saw was dark and haunting with a deep teal sky (PBk31?). The first image on your current page (from the Sotheby catalog) is closest to what I recall. But, it has also been 20 years and I have seen so many reproductions of it that my memory may be incorrect. However, my memory seems to match JG's recollection as well. That said, the third image on your page looks like a poorly reproduced and posterized copy to me. From the Steichen prints I've seen in person, I doubt it is representative of the actual piece.

In any event, Pond-Moonrise remains one of the most gorgeous prints I've ever seen. I've also seen/held Chicago's copy of his self- portrait with brush. It too is deep and masterful.

Edouard must have really had that pigment stain testing down...


On Mar 18, 2009, at 12:22 PM, Katharine Thayer wrote:

On Mar 17, 2009, at 7:02 PM, Joseph Smigiel wrote

On Tue, 17 Mar 2009, Katharine Thayer wrote:

... 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).

Fools rush in... Which is to say, it looks to me from the 3 images on Katharine's site, that the most (only?) truly beautiful one is the 3rd, that is, with the blue sky and the possibly hand-colored moon.

Do the others actually look like the small version on my old monitor from a website grab shot -- in which case, could this be a case of reputation causing value? Whatever, I'd only bid 1.9 million $ (or was it 2.9 million?) for the last one.

Joe, I agree with your relative assessment of the images that I put on that page, with the caveat that they might not be accurate representations of the actual prints. The jpeg I took from the Sotheby's catalog was especially poor; I later found a more pleasing image of the same print and replaced it; maybe you'd like this one better. (Whether it's a better representation of the actual print, I can't say). The only thing I can vouch for is that the jpeg of the print from MOMA matches (on my monitor) pretty well the reproduction in the book I scanned it from, but whether that's an accurate representation of the actual print, who knows. Also, I'm troubled by the fact that that one that looks rather brown and uninteresting in the jpeg is the one that enthralled you when you saw it in Chicago, so I'd guess that the Met's electronic reproduction of that print doesn't do it justice. So, it's hard to tell. But just from what we've got to work with here, I'd agree that the bottom one is the most interesting one.