Like many of Steichen’s early photographs, this image of a languid young woman with a weary gaze recalls the work of Eugène Carrière, a French Symbolist painter who was very much in vogue when Steichen first traveled to Paris to visit the 1900 Exposition Universelle and the nearby Rodin Pavillion (for which Carrière designed the poster). Steichen considered him to be "one of the greatest of modern French painters" and described his moody canvases, which usually portrayed dimly lit figures emerging from a dark field, as securing "an exquisite feeling of atmosphere and shroud[ing] that in a lovely sentiment." It is of little consequence that the woman depicted in The Brass Bowl remains unidentified; the photograph was intended as a mood piece, not a portrait.
Whitney Museum of American Art. "Edward Steichen," October 5, 2000–February 4, 2001.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Photographic Treasures from the Collection of Alfred Stieglitz," October 13, 2011–February 26, 2012.
Stieglitz, Alfred, ed. Camera Work: A Photographic Quarterly 14 (April 1906).
Naef, Weston J. The Collection of Alfred Stieglitz: Fifty Pioneers of Modern Photography. Studio Book. 1st ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1978. no. 465.
Smith, Joel. Edward Steichen: The Early Years. Princeton: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1999. pl. 29.