Alfred Stieglitz - Inside the Photograph: Further Selections from the Peter C. Bunnell Collection New York Tuesday, October 10, 2023 | Phillips

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  • The rare, early print of Alfred Stieglitz’s Poplars, Lake George comes from the collection of Peter C. Bunnell (1937-2021), the pioneering curator, teacher, and photographic historian. Bunnell’s research as a graduate student at Yale in the early 1960s centered upon the work of Alfred Stieglitz. He met and corresponded with those who had known Stieglitz, such as Georgia O’Keeffe, Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham, Anne Brigman, Beaumont and Nancy Newhall, and Edward Steichen, who was at the time the curator of photography at The Museum of Modern Art. His correspondence with Steichen was largely handled through Steichen’s colleague Grace Mayer, who became a friend to Bunnell and put him in touch with an acquaintance of Stieglitz’s from Lake George, Stieglitz’s home when not in New York City, named Mrs. Hesper D. Liddle of nearby Glens Falls. In the spring of 1966, Mrs. Liddle sold the photograph offered here to Bunnell. In its original frame designed by Stieglitz’s frame maker George Of, the photograph bears Stieglitz’s warm inscription to Mrs. Liddle, ‘as a souvenir of the Talks on the Porch, Lake George, & of the visit at An American Place’ (Stieglitz’s gallery in Manhattan).  


    “One of Stieglitz’s contributions to photography was his articulation of the immense subtlety in the original photographic print. No other photographer before him managed to draw out of the photographic print the same sense of tactility and spirit. The ineffable quality one feels from a Stieglitz original cannot be gained from a reproduction.”
    —Peter C. Bunnell, Inside The Photograph


    Stieglitz inscription on the reverse of the frame.

    In Alfred Stieglitz: The Key Set, Sarah Greenough locates prints of this image in the following institutional collections: National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Fisk University and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas; Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo; San Francisco Museum of American Art; Philadelphia Museum of Art; and Victoria and Albert Museum, London.


    The proceeds from this online auction will be distributed to six institutions with whom Bunnell was associated — Rochester Institute of Technology, Ohio University, Yale University, The George Eastman Museum, The Museum of Modern Art, and Princeton University Art Museum — to establish endowments to support the study of photographic history.  


    Bunnell began his long career in photography as a student of Minor White’s at the Rochester Institute of Technology in the 1950s and was recruited by White to work on the seminal periodical of artistic photography, Aperture. He joined the staff of The Museum of Modern Art in 1966 as a collection cataloguer, becoming Associate Curator and then Curator of Photography. At MoMA he curated the noteworthy exhibitions Photography as Printmaking (1968), Photography into Sculpture (1970), and the first retrospective of the work of Clarence H. White (1971). In 1972, he was hired as the inaugural David Hunter McAlpin Professor of the History of Photography and Modern Art at Princeton University. 


    Bunnell served as Director of the Princeton University Art Museum from 1973 to 1978, and as Acting Director from 1998 to 2000, and was also the Museum’s Curator of Photography throughout the entirety of his tenure. Bunnell built a broad-ranging collection of photographs at the Museum, the firsthand examination of which became a central element of the student experience in his classes and seminars. Bunnell also assembled a personal collection of photography over the course of his long career that reflects his vast and deep understanding of the medium. Begun in the 1950s, before photography galleries and dealers were commonplace, Bunnell’s collection is a deeply personal one, put together with a sense of joy and curiosity that includes both icons and lesser-known gems spanning the history of photography.

    • Provenance

      The photographer to Hesper D. Liddle, Glens Falls, New York, 1933
      Collection of Peter C. Bunnell, Princeton, New Jersey, 1966

    • Literature

      Greenough, Alfred Stieglitz: The Key Set, Volume Two, cat. no. 1470

Inside the Photograph: Further Selections from the Peter C. Bunnell Collection


Poplars, Lake George

Gelatin silver print, flush-mounted, mounted again and in the original metal frame designed by George Of.
9 3/8 x 7 3/8 in. (23.8 x 18.7 cm)
Signed, dated and inscribed 'As a souvenir of the Talks on the Porch, Lake George, & of the visit at An American Place, To Mrs. Liddle' in pencil on the reverse of the frame.

Full Cataloguing

$10,000 - 15,000 

Sold for $33,020

Contact Specialist

Christopher Mahoney
Senior International Specialist

Vanessa Hallett
Worldwide Head of Photographs and Deputy Chairwoman

Inside the Photograph: Further Selections from the Peter C. Bunnell Collection

10 - 17 October 2023