EDWARD WESTON (1886–1958)
Big Sur, 1929
gelatin silver print, mounted on card
signed, titled, dated and annotated 'Carmel' in pencil (mount, recto)
image/sheet: 7 1/2 x 9 1/2 in. (19.1 x 24.1 cm.)
mount: 8 7/8 x 10 3/4 in. (22.5 x 27.2 cm.)
Christie's, New York, June 9, 1999, lot 257;
acquired from the above sale by the present owner.
Sarah M. Lowe et al., Edward Weston: Life Work, Lodima Press, Revere, Pennsylvania, 2003, pl. 65.

Lot Essay

In early March 1929, Weston emerged from a somewhat tumultuous year in which he felt he did not have any period of concentrated work. The 1st of March represented the continuation of his work, ‘in the most exciting environs,’ Big Sur. It was a day trip up Highway 1 with his son Brett and two friends:

The coast was on a grand scale: mountainous cliffs thrust buttresses far out into the ocean, anchored safely for eternity: against the rising sun, their black solidity accentuated by rising mists and sunlit water, the ensemble was tremendous. But I lack words, I am inarticulate, anything I might write down would sound trivial as 'ain’t nature grand.' I hope the one negative made from this point will, in a small way, record my feeling (Nancy Newhall, The Daybooks of Edward Weston II, Aperture, New York, 1973, p. 111).

The present lot is an early print on matte paper of this exact negative mentioned by Weston, and is a clear prelude to his later, celebrated dune studies at Oceano. Layers of receding mountains reflect the atmospheric, wide-ranging tonalities while the water is speckled with vibrant specular highlights. The matte paper lends a tactile surface quality that is much admired in his prints from the 1920s and early 1930s.

This is the second time this print has been offered at auction, the first in 1999. This is the only version of this image that has been offered on the secondary market. Conger does not note it in her volume of works on the Edward Weston archive at the Center for Creative Photography, making the existence of this print extremely rare.

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