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© J. Paul Getty Trust

Alfred Stieglitz
American, negative 1907, print 1930
Gelatin silver print
9 3/4 x 7 1/4 in.

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All I know about myself is that I am an honest workman.--And that good workmanship is ever a passion with me.--And as I age the passion becomes more intense. Borders on mania.

Alfred Stieglitz wrote this description of himself to a friend in 1920. Can that self-portrait in words be reconciled with the photographic self-portrait of a younger Stieglitz, made thirteen years earlier in his career? Here he appears as an intense, determined man, possibly passionate but hardly manic. The intensity of his bespectacled gaze, a metaphor for his visionary career, suggests the skill that he described and that he applied to his trade.

Some twenty years after he made the negative, Stieglitz still thought this photograph faithfully portrayed him; he then made this print as a gift for his wife, the painter Georgia O'Keeffe.