Edward J. Steichen (American, born Luxembourg, 1879–1973)
Platinum print; 7 13/16 x 3 5/8 in. (19.8 x 9.2 cm)
Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1933 (33.43.1)
In this eccentric self-portrait of the artist as a young dandy, Steichen seems poised at a threshold, hovering half in and half out of the frame. Much like Whistler, Steichen used the portrait as a vehicle for exploring abstract elements of design, cleverly punctuating the white wall behind him with a tiny, empty picture frame.
Made in Milwaukee before Steichen headed to Paris in 1900, this photograph was one of three that Stieglitz bought at their first meeting for five dollars each, saying: "And I am robbing you at that." Steichen was elated and confessed to never before having sold a picture for more than fifty cents.