The Hand of Man

Alfred Stieglitz (American, Hoboken, New Jersey 1864–1946 New York)
1902, printed 1910
24.2 x 31.9 cm (9 1/2 x 12 9/16 in.)
Credit Line:
Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1949
Accession Number:
Not on view
As proprietor of the Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession and editor of the photographic journals Camera Notes and Camera Work, Stieglitz was a major force in the promotion and elevation of photography as a fine art in America in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. His own photographs had an equally revolutionary impact on the advancement of the medium.
The Hand of Man was first published in January 1903 in the inaugural issue of Camera Work. With this image of a lone locomotive chugging through the train yards of Long Island City, Stieglitz showed that a gritty urban landscape could have an atmospheric beauty and a symbolic value as potent as those of an unspoiled natural landscape. The title alludes to this modern transformation of the landscape and also perhaps to photography itself as a mechanical process. Stieglitz believed that a mechanical instrument such as the camera could be transformed into a tool for creating art when guided by the hand and sensibility of an artist.
Inscription: Inscribed and signed in pencil on print, recto LL in margin: " "The Hand of Man" 1904 // Alfred Stieglitz"
Alfred Stieglitz

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Paul Strand and His Contemporaries," February 10, 1998–May 31, 1998.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Stieglitz, Steichen, Strand," November 8, 2010–April 10, 2011.

Stieglitz, Alfred, ed. Camera Work: A Photographic Quarterly 1 (January 1903). p. 47.

Stieglitz, Alfred, ed. Camera Work: A Photographic Quarterly 36 (October 1911). p. 57.

Greenough, Sarah. Alfred Stieglitz: The Key Set. Vol. 2. Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., 2002. no. 278.

This gravure was made from an enlarged copy negative. Although the artist inscribed the date "1904", the negative is known to have been made in 1902. The inscription therefore likely dates from c. 1913.

Per conversation between Malcom Daniel and Peter Bunnell (February 2002), the railroad yards depicted are in Long Island City, New York. Photograph published in Scribner's, March 1903.