Object Details




Edward Steichen (American, 1879 - 1973)






Gum bichromate print


21 x 15.9 cm (8 1/4 x 6 1/4 in.)

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Holding a painter's palette in his left hand and a paintbrush in his right and wearing a smock that belonged to the photographer Fred Holland Day, Edward Steichen created a boldly assertive self-portrait. Although Steichen was still active as a painter when he made the photograph, the image also implies that the photographer's craft is equal to that of the traditional artist.Using a gum bichromate process served to heighten the painterly effect of this photograph, creating a soft-focus, grainy image that did not resemble the sharp-focus prints that were more popularly favored. The overall darkness of the print heightens the picture's drama, while the contrasting highlight areas of shirt collar and brush tip create a tonal balance within the composition. Standing in three-quarter pose, the young photographer appears poised for certain artistic ascendancy, his taut grip on the paintbrush reinforcing the sense of purpose.

Palette of Light: Hand-crafted Photographs, 1898 - 1914 (March 15 to June 19, 1994)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum, (Malibu), March 15 to June 19, 1994
Arrows of Time: Photographs from the J. Paul Getty Museum (January 24 to April 2, 1995)
  • Armand Hammer Museum of Art and Cultural Center at UCLA, (Los Angeles), January 24 to April 2, 1995
Shared Intelligence: American Painting and the Photograph (February 4, 2011 to January 8, 2012)
  • Columbus Museum of Art, (Columbus), February 4 to April 24, 2011
  • The Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, (Santa Fe), May 20 to September 11, 2011