Edward Steichen - Photographs New York Wednesday, October 14, 2020 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    Originally in the collection of Helga Sandburg, Steichen’s niece

  • Catalogue Essay

    Steichen’s deftly composed study of a Mourning Cloak butterfly perched amidst the blossoms of the Cosmos plant was almost certainly made at the time the photographer executed his more ominous Diagram of Doom series, in which the same type of butterfly is surrounded by looming shadows. Steichen was an avid and expert gardener and would have been familiar with the Mourning Cloak, a widely distributed butterfly in North America. This photograph comes originally from the collection of Helga Sandburg, the daughter of poet and Steichen biographer Carl Sandburg. Carl Sandburg married Steichen’s sister, Lillian, in 1908, and Helga was the youngest of their three daughters.


Untitled (Mourning Cloak Butterfly on Cosmos)

Gelatin silver print.
7 5/8 x 9 1/2 in. (19.4 x 24.1 cm)
Annotated ‘top’ in an unidentified hand in pencil on the verso.

$20,000 - 30,000 

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Sarah Krueger
Head of Department, Photographs

Vanessa Hallett
Worldwide Head of Photographs and Deputy Chairwoman, Americas



New York Auction 14 October 2020