Edward Steichen - Photographs New York Thursday, October 7, 2021 | Phillips

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  • Heavy Roses, Voulangis, France, was made shortly before Edward Steichen left the country at the outset of World War I. Steichen’s extended French sojourn, living in Voulangis in a cottage surrounded by flower gardens, was an especially formative time in his career. During this time, painting gave way to photography as his chief artistic pursuit, and he continued to experiment and refine his approach to the modern medium. In Steichen’s photography, this period marked a slow but steady trend away from the atmospheric effects of Pictorialism toward a fuller exploitation of the camera’s capacity to capture the detail and volume of objects. It has been suggested that Heavy Roses was the last photograph Steichen made before fleeing Europe. Whether or not this is the case, the photograph has an elegiac quality. Its detailed account of its subject matter suggests an acceptance of the realities that faced Steichen at this junction.


    The print offered here was made by Steichen’s trusted printer, Rolf Petersen (1900-1990). Born in Germany, Petersen worked as photojournalist and photo-editor in Berlin before moving to New York City in 1951. He was hired to work with Steichen and his team on the creation of Steichen’s blockbuster 1955 Family of Man exhibition and thereafter maintained a darkroom at MoMA. This print comes originally from Petersen’s own collection.

    • Provenance

      Rolf Petersen, Munich
      Helios, Inc., New York, 1976

    • Literature

      Steichen, A Life in Photography, pl. 62
      Sandburg, Steichen the Photographer, p. 33
      Longwell, Steichen: The Master Prints 1895 – 1914, pl. 72
      Joanna Steichen, Steichen’s Legacy, pl. 308
      Photo Poche, Edward Steichen, pl. 24
      Ewing, Flora Photographica: Masterpieces of Flower Photography, from 1835 to the Present, pl. 11


Heavy Roses, Voulangis, France

Toned gelatin silver print, printed later by Rolf Petersen.
10 5/8 x 13 3/4 in. (27 x 34.9 cm)
Credit stamp, titled, dated and annotated, likely by Petersen, in pencil on the verso.

Full Cataloguing

$22,000 - 32,000 

Sold for $40,320

Contact Specialist

Sarah Krueger
Head of Department
+1 212 940 1225
[email protected]


Vanessa Hallett
Deputy Chairwoman, Americas and Worldwide Head of Photographs
+1 212 940 1243
[email protected]


New York Auction 7 October 2021