About this artwork
“What is true of the oil or watercolor is equally true of the photograph,” Edward Steichen once said, aptly expressing the overt pictorial intent of Rodin, Le Penseur. This romantic silhouette portrait depicts Auguste Rodin seated in his studio opposite his famous work Le Penseur, with his sculpture of Victor Hugo in the background. In 1902, the year he made this photograph, Steichen believed he would become a painter, and he visited Rodin and his circle of artists and admirers often. But as a founding member of Alfred Stieglitz’s Photo-Secession group, Steichen increasingly created photographs that were the artistic equivalents of his paintings, in the hope of winning artistic credibility for the newer art form. Here the artist expertly manipulated the elastic and expressive gum-bichromate method, in which the application of water and brushwork in the printing process can soften or omit details, reduce dark spaces, and even change light into dark (and vice versa). The result is a combination of two separate images, both dramatically posed and lit, into a striking, painterly photograph.
For more on Edward Steichen’s work in the Art Institute’s collection visit the website: Edward Steichen’s World War I Years.
For more on the Alfred Stieglitz collection at the Art Institute, along with in-depth object information, please visit the website: The Alfred Stieglitz Collection.
- Currently Off View
- Photography and Media
- Edward Steichen
- Rodin, Le Penseur
- United States
- Made 1902
- Gum bichromate print
- Inscribed recto, lower left, in white pencil: "Steichen / MDCCCCII"; inscribed verso, on mount, upper right, sideways, in graphite: "[ROD]IN "LE PENSEUR / BY / STEICHEN"; verso, on mount, center, sideways, in graphite: "[?]roden [?/crossed out]"; verso, on mount, upper left, diagonally, in graphite: "1/4 101 Brush / Aluminum Brz [?] tone / oak b[illegible] 131 / color / 3/8 101 Brush Aluminum Brz / tone"; verso, on mount, upper left, in graphite: "[drawing]"; verso, on mount, lower left, sideways, in graphite: "[drawing of matting instructions]"; verso, on mount, lower left, sideways, in graphite: "Steichen / if A as diag / Sr 10 1/4 x 12 3/4"
- 26.2 × 32.6 cm (image/paper/mount)
- Alfred Stieglitz Collection
- © 2018 The Estate of Edward Steichen/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York