Lot 502

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AMERICAN, 1879-1973
Oil on canvas
Lower right signed and dated: Steichen / MDCCCCIV; verso gallery label (on backing board): Hirschel & Adler; inv. # APG 6478; Verso inscription and drawing (on artist board nailed to stretcher)

Catalogue note:
Originally from Luxembourg, Edward Steichen is considered one of history's most influential photographers, and his images of Lake George are among his most revered and well-known. This painting was created in 1904, when Steichen and his wife, Clara, accepted art critic Charles H. Caffin's invitation to spend August at Caffin's home in the wetlands on the Long Island Sound. During this trip, Steichen also made the negative for "The Pond - Moonlight," which sold for $2.9 million in 2006, breaking the record at the time for the most expensive photograph ever sold at auction.

Steichen and Clara's stay with Caffin unexpectedly stretched into September when Steichen contracted typhoid fever and had to be hospitalized for three weeks. In a hand-written message attached to the verso of "Lake George, 1904" Steichen dedicates the painting to a doctor, humorously referring to the work as "an especial souvenir of my "icecreamtyphoiditis.""

The painting presumably having been a gift is likely why it has survived to this day; Steichen destroyed his backlog of paintings in a bonfire in 1923, when he made the decision to pursue a career in commercial photography. As a result, Steichen's paintings from this period are very rare. One from 1904 also titled "Lake George" is in the permanent collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. These few paintings, along with the iconic photographs taken at the same time, demonstrate Steichen's fascination with moonlight as a subject matter. In his autobiography, "A Life in Photography," Steichen wrote:

"The romantic and mysterious quality of moonlight, the lyric aspect of nature made the strongest appeal to me. Most of the paintings … that I did in my early years were of moonlight subjects … the real magician was light itself-mysterious and ever-changing light with its accompanying shadows rich and full of mystery."


  • Hirschl & Adler Galleries Inc.; Private Collection
  • Dimensions:
  • 14 x 10 1/4 in. (35.6 x 26 cm.), Frame: 18 1/4 x 14 1/4 in. (46.4 x 36.2 cm.)
  • Artist Name:
  • Medium:
  • Oil on canvas
  • Condition:
  • This work is in good condition.
    There is an old relining.
    There is no apparent inpaint or paint loss.

    For a detailed condition report please request more information.

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September 28, 2023 10:00 AM EDT
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Potomack Company

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