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  • Provenance

    Acquired from the artist, circa 1927
    By descent to the current owners

  • Literature

    Conger, Edward Weston: Photographs from the Collection of the Center for Creative Photography, fig. 547
    Weston, ‘From My Day Book,’ Creative Art: A Magazine of Fine and Applied Art, August 1928, p. xxxiv
    Cahill and Barr, eds, Art in America in Modern Times (1934), Kirstein, ‘Photography in the United States,’ p. 87
    Cahill and Barr, eds, Art in America: A Complete Survey (1935), Kirstein, ‘Photography in the United States,’ p. 145
    Mora, Edward Weston: Forms of Passion, p. 138

  • Catalogue Essay

    In 1927 Edward Weston was newly returned from his Mexican sojourn and had settled into his old studio in Glendale, California. The transition was a difficult one and, strapped for cash, he spent much of his time fulfilling portrait commissions to make a living. Yet this difficult period was marked also by intense creativity as he began the series of groundbreaking still-lifes that would continue to occupy him in the coming years. With its detailed account of its subject, sophisticated composition, and pure visual impact, Chard takes its place among the best of these. Like the nautilus shells Weston photographed contemporaneously, and the pepper studies that would follow, the subject in this image is presented both as itself and as a totem for Modernism.

    In August of 1927, Weston wrote of his growing fascination with this subject matter. In his Daybook entry for the 12th of that month he recounts, ‘I spotted a swiss chard in the Japanese Market, so fine in color, form, livingness that I bought it at once, and made two negatives: one is good,–but last eve I saw another even finer, which shall serve me today.’ On the 16th he writes again of photographing the chard’s ‘solid, sculpture-like head. . . almost white . . . against a light ground, standing alone with no accessories. It pleases me’ (Daybooks, California, p. 35).

    Weston included one these photographs in his exhibition at the University of California in October and November of 1927. Based upon a review of this exhibition by critic Elizabeth Bingham, it seems likely that it was the image offered here. Bingham wrote. ‘There is indication here that in such prints as ‘Swiss Chard’ . . . he has reached a perfection astonishing to all who mistrust photography as an art medium. In form, in delicate tracery of pattern, in the sense of plastic relief and the indication of motion, as of a frieze, it might easily be compared to a Greek vase. Yet the photograph indicates in addition to the softness, the living quality of the green and fragile plant. . . If a man’s eye and photographic lens can produce a print like this even the most skeptical must admit that such photography does not lack the simplicity and penetration of a significant art’ (‘Art: Photographs by Edward Weston,’ Saturday Night, 15 October 1927, Courtesy Paula B. Freedman & Paul M. Hertzmann, Inc., San Francisco, California),

    The photograph offered here was acquired from Edward Weston by a mid-western family in 1927 and is inscribed by Weston to their daughter. The photograph has remained in the family since that time. Very few prints of this image are extant. Weston’s negative log, now in the collection of the Center for Creative Photography, Tucson, lists that he made only eleven prints from the projected edition of 50. It is believed that only one other print of this image has appeared at auction.

211

Chard

1927
Gelatin silver print.
9 3/8 x 7 1/4 in. (23.8 x 18.4 cm)
Signed, titled, dated and inscribed 'to Rosemary' in pencil on the mount.

Estimate
$80,000 - 120,000 

Contact Specialist

Sarah Krueger
Head of Department, Photographs

Vanessa Hallett
Worldwide Head of Photographs and Deputy Chairwoman, Americas

 

Photographs

New York Auction 14 October 2020