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.
Inscription: Inscribed on verso in crayon pencil by Stieglitz: "Amelie Rives // Negative by Pierre Troubezkoy // Enlargement & Print by // Coburn // 1904".
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Johnson Gallery, Selections from the Collection 36," November 3, 2003–March 7, 2004.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Photographic Treasures from the Collection of Alfred Stieglitz," October 13, 2011–February 26, 2012.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Johnson Gallery, Selections from the Collection 70," February 8, 2016–June 6, 2016.
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. 127.