e"> "Close Cart"

EDWARD (EDUARD) STEICHEN (American, 1879-1973)

EDWARD (EDUARD) STEICHEN (American, 1879-1973)

Item Description:

Voulangis landscape with clouds (Untitled), 1909, oil on canvas, 24-1/4 x 25 in., signed and dated with roman numerals lower right Provenance:Alfred Stieglitz (by repute) Gifted to the grandmother of the current owner [see the attached portrait Steichen took of Lucille Wolf Heming Koshland, wife of Daniel Koshland (president of Levi Straussin the 1950's) and previous widow of Charles Heming, uncle of the current owner] N.B. photo not included in lot Clouds appears to have been a subject of interest for Edward Steichen, a seminal figure in the early modernist movement in American art. Both a painter and a photographer, his experimentation in both fields seemed to manifest in an interesting interplay between mediums, where one often informed the other: his early photographic work is often described as ñpainterlyî, and his idiosyncratic, high-Tonalist style of painting shares an emphasis on suffused and/or contrasting tonalities„a ubiquitous trait of his early photography. This is clearly evident in his 1903 photograph The Big White Cloud, Lake George, which appeared in the April 1906 Special Steichen Supplement of Alfred StieglitzÍs enormously important journal Camera Work. The composition, with its stately cumulous cloud that billows over the horizon on the right, immediately drawing the eye, is almost identical to the scheme of the present work in which the artistÍs use of saturated color lends an additional layer of subjective poeticism. For Steichen (and Tonalists in general), a work of art was meant to express the inner spirit of the artist rather than any objective reality, and this was to be done through the nuances of landscape. The subtle hues, summer haze, and triumphant cloud all appear to be charged with meaning and seem to recall WhitmanÍs famous lines at the end of Song of Myself„the American anthem that was something like artistic scripture for Marsden Hartley and other early modernists in SteichenÍs circle„ñThe last scud of day holds back for me, / It flings my likeness after the rest and true as any on the shadowÍd wilds, / It coaxes me to the vapor and the dusk.î Steichen exhibited a small "Sketch of Clouds" in the revolutionary 1910 exhibition at 291 Galleries in New York, ñYoung American Paintersî, and it is possible that the present work is related. The view is likely that of the French countryside around SteichenÍs home in Voulangis, which became his base of operations from 1908 to 1924. It dates to a pivotal moment in his career when he began to transition to a more modernist, decorative style influenced by MatisseÍs radical use of color. In 1923, Steichen, already an established painter and photographer, made an unprecedented move by taking a job as a commercial photographer for Conde Nast. This, in conjunction with his wartime experience and a deflating incident in which his gardener created a seemingly effortless copy of one of his paintings, led to his decision to give up painting and burn all of the remaining canvases in his possession. Although it seems an unfair twist of fate to be deprived of decades of work from such an important artist, the 90-or-so paintings that remain give us a clear indication of his talent, vision, and eminence among our early modernists.


Make an offer

How it works:
  • Submit your offer and our sales team will negotiate with the seller on your behalf.
  • The item will remain on sale for other buyers while your offer is being discussed.
  • Not sure what to offer? Include a message below and a Lofty specialist will reach out to you.
NOTE: If the seller accepts, your offer is binding.
Listed price: $30,000.00

A member of the Lofty Sales Team will be in touch shortly and you will receive a copy of this email.

EDWARD (EDUARD) STEICHEN (American, 1879-1973)

Listed price: $30,000.00

Contact Lofty