As Man Ray told it in his autobiography, one day in 1915 the French artist Marcel Duchamp appeared at the door of his house, and despite a language barrier the two artists quickly recognized one another as kindred spirits. A lifelong friendship was begun, and they collaborated on a variety of projects.
In 1917 Duchamp made The Water Mill Within Glider, a painting on glass now at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, as a study for his work Large Glass of 1915 to 1923. Man Ray made this photograph later in Paris after Duchamp had framed the Water Mill for delivery to his buyer. Lying flat on the table, Duchamp posed in a way that makes him an integral part of the composition. An inscription on the back of the print indicates that the image of the sculpture was cut out of the photographic print by Duchamp, who trimmed away the background of the studio, then turned the picture vertically to make it seem as though he were bracing the glass.