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Amelie Rives, Princess Troubetzkoy
(American, born Russia, 1864–1936)
Alvin Langdon Coburn (British, Boston, Massachusetts 1882–1966 Wales)
Gum bichromate over platinum print
18.7 x 23.2 cm (7 3/8 x 9 1/8 in.)
Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1933
Not on view
This photograph should be seen as a collaboration: Troubetzkoy, a Russian portrait painter, took the picture; his wife, Amélie, a novelist and playwright from a prominent Virginia family, posed for it; and Alvin Langdon Coburn (1882-1966) printed it.Coburn, who had accompanied Amélie's sister, the amateur photographer Landon Rives, to the Rives family estate at Castle Hill, where he met Troubetzkoy, transformed the straightforward image into a Pictorialist composition in the darkroom, deliberately increasing the foreground shadow and allowing the soft focus to create a palpable sense of atmosphere. Such techniques proclaim Coburn's membership in the Photo-Secession, a turn-of-the-century association of avant-garde photographers founded by Alfred Stieglitz. The group was devoted to establishing its medium's place among the fine arts by creating exquisitely crafted, painterly, singular prints—a goal Coburn achieved here using the graphic strength of Troubetzkoy's portrait as a starting point.