Balzac, the Open Sky -- 11 P. M.
Edward J. Steichen
(American (born Luxembourg), Bivange 1879–1973 West Redding, Connecticut)
1908, printed 1909
Direct carbon print
48.7 x 38.5 cm (19 3/16 x 15 3/16 in.)
Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1933
Not on view
In late summer 1908 Rodin moved the plaster of his sculpture of the French writer Honoré de Balzac out of his studio and into the open air so that Steichen, who disliked its chalky aspect in the daylight, could photograph it by the moon. Waiting through several exposures as long as an hour each, Steichen made this exposure at 11 p.m., when the moonlight transformed the plaster into a monumental phantom rising above the brooding nocturnal landscape. Steichen recalled that when he presented his finished prints some weeks later, an elated Rodin exclaimed: "You will make the world understand my Balzac through your pictures. They are like Christ walking on the desert."
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