Alvin Langdon Coburn (1882 – 1966)
Alvin Langdon Coburn (1882 – 1966)

The Cloud, 1906

Alvin Langdon Coburn (1882 – 1966)
The Cloud, 1906
gum-bichromate over platinum print
annotations in pencil (verso)
image/sheet: 15 3/4 x 12 1/2 in. (40.5 x 31.8 cm.)
The artist;
George Eastman House, New York, October 1977, lot 263;
Sotheby's, New York, October 5, 2011, lot 54.
Karl Steinorth (ed.), Alvin Langdon Coburn: Photographs 1900-1924, Edition Stemmle/International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House, Zurich, New York, 1998, p. 55.

Lot Essay

Clouds are especially good subject matter for the photographer.
Alvin Langdon Coburn

Coburn’s studies of nature are symbolic rather than descriptive. His friend and champion George Bernard Shaw expressed this succinctly when he said that Coburn’s aim in landscape photography was ‘always to convey a mood and not to impart local information’. On the specific subject of clouds, Coburn has observed that: ‘The versatility of the Great Creator of Clouds is almost unbelievable and yet the fact is ever before us to excite our wonder. The patterns of moving clouds and water are never the same from now to all eternity; and these patterns are ever moving to our continual delight.’

This present study, impressive in its large size and made especially rich from its fine paper support, well expresses Coburn’s transcendental interpretation of nature. Timeless in its theme, poetic in its spirit, painterly in its soft rendering, this study is perfectly expressive of the aesthetics and ambitions of the secessionist movement that held such sway in creative photographic circles around 1900, while echoing a long, High Romantic tradition.

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