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Sarah Greenough, “Alfred Stieglitz/The Last Joke—Bellagio or A Good Joke/1887,” Alfred Stieglitz Key Set, NGA Online Editions, (accessed August 19, 2022).

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Key Set Entry

Related Key Set Photographs

  • Alfred Stieglitz
    Maria, Bellagio
    1887, printed 1929/1934
    gelatin silver print
    Key Set Number 34


In the summer of 1887 Stieglitz traveled through Italy, stopping in Venice, Chioggia, Pallanza (on Lake Maggiore), Bellagio (on Lake Como), and Riva de Garda (on Lake Garda). This photograph and Key Set numbers 34, 35, 36, 37, and 38 were made in Bellagio. Later that fall, Stieglitz sent twelve photographs made during the trip, including A Good Joke, to The Amateur Photographer’s “Photographic Holiday Work Competition,” judged by Peter Henry Emerson (see The Amateur Photographer 6 [4 November 1887], 217). This photograph won first prize (see The Amateur Photographer 6 [25 November 1887], 253).

The negative for this image was made using a Steinheil Aplanat 19-inch lens on Perutz’s Orthochromatic plates and developed using oxalate, pyrosoda, hydroquinone, and eikongen (see exh. cat., Fourth Annual Joint Exhibition, New York, 1891).

Other Collections

A print corresponding with this photograph can also be found in the following collection(s):

The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 370.1964

Private collection

Lifetime Exhibitions

A print from the same negative—perhaps a photograph from the Gallery’s collection—appeared in the following exhibition(s) during Alfred Stieglitz’s lifetime:

1888, Vienna (no. 52.a.6, as Genrestudie aus Italien)
1889, Berlin (Special Steinheil Prize)
1890, London, Crystal Palace (no. 836, as A Good Joke)
1891, New York (no. 237, as A Good Joke, aristotype)
1894, Toronto
1899, New York (no. 22, as A Good Joke, 1887–1889, platinum direct)
1921, New York (no. 1, as My First-Prize Winner, 1887)

Lifetime Publications

A reproduction of this work appeared in the following publication(s) during Alfred Stieglitz’s lifetime:

The Amateur Photographer 7, special number (11 July 1888): frontispiece (ill., A Good Joke)

Photographische Mitteilungen 26 (September 1889): opp. 153 (ill., untitled)

“Alfred Stieglitz and his Latest Work,” The Photographic Times 28: 4 (April 1896): 162 (ill., A Good Joke)

Marmaduke Humphrey, “Triumphs in Amateur Photography,” Godey’s Magazine 135 (December 1897): 590 (ill., A Good Joke)


by Alfred Stieglitz, on mount, upper left verso, in graphite: Exhibition / 1921; left center verso: The Last Joke— / Bellagio 1887

by Georgia O'Keeffe, on mount, lower left verso, in graphite: 60A


Georgia O'Keeffe; gift to NGA, 1949.

Associated Names
O'Keeffe, Georgia
Exhibition History
Photographs by Alfred Stieglitz, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, March 16–April 27, 1958
Photographs by Alfred Stieglitz, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, February 3–May 8, 1983; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, June 17–August 14, 1983; The Art Institute of Chicago, October 18, 1983–January 3, 1984
Alfred Stieglitz: Known and Unknown, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, June 2–September 2, 2002; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, October 6, 2002–January 5, 2003
A Subtle Beauty: Platinum Photographs from the Collection, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, 2014–2015
Engelhard, Georgia. "Alfred Stieglitz: 'Father of Modern Photography.'" The Camera 69 (June 1947): 50.
Greenough, Sarah, and Juan Hamilton. Alfred Stieglitz: Photographs and Writings. Washington, 1983: no. 1.
Homer, William Innes. Alfred Stieglitz and the Photo-Secession. Boston, 1983: 12.
Greenough, Sarah. Alfred Stieglitz: The Key Set: The Alfred Stieglitz Collection of Photographs. Washington, 2002: vol. 1, cat. 33.
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