The Hand of Man

Object Details


The Hand of Man


Alfred Stieglitz (American, 1864 - 1946)




New York, New York, United States (Place Created)





Object Number:



24.1 × 31.8 cm (9 1/2 × 12 1/2 in.)

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A locomotive engine steams toward the camera on its barely visible tracks, wearing a billowing black cloud of smoke like a plumed hat. The criss-crossing lines of tracks beside it snake off toward the horizon, and the telephone poles at the left appear to be making the same march. Alfred Stieglitz's composition is a treatise on the importance of the machine in the modern Industrial Age. The title of the photograph, The Hand of Man, sets up a comparison between the machine that is depicted and the human artistic impulse that created the image. Stieglitz reproduced this photograph in the January 1903 issue of Camera Work, a journal that he both founded and edited. In the early 1930s he returned to the image and printed additional photographs.

- 1984

Samuel Wagstaff, Jr., American, 1921 - 1987, sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1984.

Railroad Vision (March 3 to June 23, 2002)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), March 5 to June 23, 2002
The Artist and the Railway (April 18, 2008 to January 18, 2009)
  • Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, April 18 to August 10, 2008
  • The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art (Kansas City), September 13, 2008 to January 18, 2009
The Thrill of the Chase: The Wagstaff Collection of Photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum (March 15, 2016 to May 7, 2017)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), March 15 to July 31, 2016
  • Wadsworth Atheneum (Hartford), September 10 to December 11, 2016
  • Portland Museum of Art (Portland), February 13 to May 7, 2017

Stieglitz, Alfred, ed. Camera Work. Vol 1 (Jan. 1903).

Greenough, Sarah. Alfred Stieglitz: The Key Set: The Alfred Stieglitz Collection of Photographs, Volume One 1886-1922. 2 vols. (Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art, Washington, 2002), pp. 164-166, ill.