Edward Weston - Photographs New York Monday, July 13, 2020 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    The artist to Toyo Miyatake, Los Angeles
    Private Collection, California, acquired from the descendants of the above

  • Catalogue Essay

    This Edward Weston photograph, previously unknown, was originally acquired from the photographer by Toyo Miyatake, a Japanese-American photographer who lived in Los Angeles. At the time, Weston operated a studio in nearby Tropico (now Glendale) and he and Miyatake were drawn together by their shared interests. As they became friends and colleagues, Weston began to establish a following within Los Angeles’s Japantown. Miyatake was a founding member of Shakudo-Sha, an association devoted to the promotion of arts and literature in the Japanese community, and the group sponsored an exhibition of Weston’s photographs in 1925. The show was a financial success, and an overjoyed Weston wrote to his fellow photographer Johan Hagemeyer, ‘I showed in the Japanese quarter—East 1st Street for three days—sold $140.00 worth of prints,’ noting that ‘the curiosity seekers amongst “society”’ would never had bought so strongly (Conger, p. 13). Shakudo-Sha organized three exhibitions of Weston’s work between 1925 and 1931, providing much needed income for the perennially cash-strapped photographer and helping fund his extended residencies in Mexico.

    In 1942 Miyatake was imprisoned at Manzanar internment camp along with thousands of other Japanese-Americans. Unbeknownst to authorities, he smuggled in lenses, fabricated a camera body, and began making pictures that documented the life of the camp. While he started his work surreptitiously he ultimately was granted permission to photograph in the camp; his images remain a potent document of this chapter of American history.

    The photograph offered here was likely made in one of Weston’s studios in Mexico City. A similar setting can be seen in his 1924 portraits of Rafael Sala and Felipe Texidor. The unconventional pose of the nude within Weston’s taut and highly ordered composition bears a similarity to his nudes of Anita Brenner, Miriam Lerner, Tina Modotti and others made during the early 1920s. This photograph now takes a place within that formative phase of Weston’s career.

    As of this writing, no other print of this image has been located.


Nude in Studio

Palladium print.
6 1/2 x 7 7/8 in. (16.5 x 20 cm)
Annotated '5.00' (crossed out) and '4.00' in pencil on the verso.

$25,000 - 35,000 

Contact Specialist

Sarah Krueger
Head of Department, Photographs

Vanessa Hallett
Worldwide Head of Photographs and Deputy Chairwoman, Americas

+212 940 1245


New York Auction 13 July 2020