Nude (Edward Weston)

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wikicollecting

2015-06-26 10:42:30

Nude is a photograph made by Edward Weston in 1925. Sold in 2008 for $1,609,000, it is currently the fourth most expensive photograph sold at auction.

The photographer Edward Henry Weston (1886-1958) was an American photographer who has been described as “one of the masters of 20th century photography”. Described as “sensuously precise”, his most renowned work focused on capturing and printing highly-detailed photographic images of the world around him which were “unpretentious, and true to the reality before the photographer.” Weston himself said of photography:

"[T]he camera should be used for a recording of life, for rendering the very substance and quintessence of the thing itself, whether it be polished steel or palpitating flesh."

The subject matter of Weston’s work was varied, including “natural landscapes and forms such as artichoke, shells, and rocks, using large-format cameras and available light”, as well as people, most notably nudes.

The photograph

‘Nude’ was taken in 1925, presumably in San Francisco where Weston was working and living at the time. The photograph partially depicts a “serpentine” naked body, displaying only the lower back, shoulder blades and behind. The photograph is “[f]ramed so that the figure has no recognizable identity”.

The photograph has been described as having “a timeless, formal simplicity that suggests a poetic rendering of a cloud formation in the sky.” Similarly, it has been described as being “almost like a stark landscape”.

Record sale

On 7th April 2008, a print of Nude was sold for $1,609,000 at Sotheby’s, New York. The print formed part of the Quillan Collection of Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Photographs, described as “a connoisseur’s collection of 68 rare and unique images ranging in date from 1847 to 1985”.

The mounted gelatin silver print, measuring 13 by 23.5 cm, was “the object of a heated battle between two bidders”. It was eventually sold, for significantly more than its estimated price of $600-900,000, to Peter MacGill of the Pace-MacGill Gallery. The sale set a new record for the artist at auction by more than $500,000.

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