Notes to the Reader
Definition of the Key Set
This Online Edition includes all of the works by Alfred Stieglitz that Georgia O’Keeffe and the Alfred Stieglitz Estate donated to the National Gallery of Art. Following his death in 1946, O’Keeffe, with the assistance of Doris Bry, organized Stieglitz’s collection of his own photographs, which numbered more than 2,500 prints. “In order that his work might be seen as a whole,” she formed the Gallery’s collection, which she called the “key set” (Georgia O’Keeffe, “Stieglitz: His Pictures Collected Him,” The New York Times Magazine [11 December 1949]). It includes at least one print of every mounted photograph in his possession at the time of his death as well as six albums, eleven Autochromes, and a complete set of Camera Work. If Stieglitz had saved different kinds of prints made from the same negative—platinum, palladium, carbon, photogravure, or gelatin silver—or different crops or orientations of a print on the mount board, she put examples of each variant into the Key Set. O’Keeffe gave most of the works in 1949 and placed on deposit the 329 portraits of herself, which she subsequently donated in 1980. Two prints that had been misplaced at the time of the original gift were given in 1990 by the Georgia O’Keeffe Foundation in honor of Georgia O’Keeffe and the fiftieth anniversary of the National Gallery of Art. The Alfred Stieglitz Key Set comprises these 1,642 prints.
Smaller collections consisting of other prints of works in the Key Set, or unique lantern slides and Autochromes, were distributed among twelve museums (see Stieglitz Collections, below).
Alfred Stieglitz: The Key Set was published as a two-volume set in 2002. This Online Edition contains the content of the 2002 publication, updated where necessary, and new material, including an overview of Stieglitz’s career and an expanded section on his practices and processes.
Key Set Order
Each print in the Key Set has been assigned a “Key Set number.” In general, the order is chronological by the date of the negative. Where more than one print exists from a negative, the prints have been sequenced chronologically, with the print date indicated following the negative date. A handful of negative dates have been revised in this Online Edition, but the original Key Set numbers—as they appeared in the 2002 publication Alfred Stieglitz: The Key Set—have been retained.
Priority has been given to inscribed titles. Where no title is inscribed, priority has been given to titles inscribed on prints in other collections or used by Stieglitz in contemporary publications and exhibition checklists. Many prints made from the same negative have different titles (see, for example, Hour of Prayer and Scurrying Home, Key Set numbers
The portraits of Georgia O’Keeffe are an exception. Few inscriptions exist, and when Stieglitz first exhibited these portraits in 1919 and 1921, he titled them A Woman, or Torsos, Feet, and Hands and Breasts. Thereafter when he exhibited or reproduced them, he titled them Georgia O’Keeffe or Portrait of Georgia O’Keeffe. For consistency and clarity, the title Georgia O’Keeffe has been assigned to these works, with Torso, Feet, Hands, or Hands and Breasts added where appropriate.
Stieglitz’s cloud photographs, which he generally exhibited as either Songs of the Sky (before 1925), or Equivalent or Equivalents (from 1925 on), are another exception. He routinely grouped many of the cloud photographs now in the Key Set into series to which he assigned letters followed by numbers (see, for example, Equivalents K1–3, Key Set numbers
Stieglitz occasionally dated his prints, but often did so years after making the negative. The dates he inscribed on the Gallery’s prints as well as those in other collections have been used as a guideline. When possible, Stieglitz’s dates have been corroborated through exhibition and reproduction histories, contemporary letters, and other documents. Where evidence indicates a date different from that given by Stieglitz, the source is noted at the end of the entry.
In many cases, dates have been assigned based on the similarity of subject matter or print type to that of other dated photographs in the collection. Where a date is uncertain, a slash has been used to indicate a likely range (for example, 1923/1929).
If a particular print is known to have been made several years after the negative, a print date is listed following the negative date.
Based on recent research and analysis, a few negative dates and several printed dates have been revised in this Online Edition.
All works have been systematically examined by Gallery curators and conservators to determine the type of print. When necessary, prints were analyzed using nondestructive methods, such as x-ray fluorescence spectroscopy (XRF) and attenuated total reflective spectroscopy (ATR), to identify metallic elements, coatings, or binding mediums.
Many photogravures made for publication in Picturesque Bits of New York and Other Studies (1897), Camera Work (1903–1917), The Work of Alfred Stieglitz (1904/1905), and 291 (1915–1916) are included. These have been identified following the title and have been sequenced according to their negative dates.
Platinum prints in the six albums in the collection are similarly identified. Two of these albums, Freienwalde a. O. (see Key Set number
All works were measured for the catalog in centimeters, listed first, as well as in inches, listed in parentheses. Height precedes width. Measurements were made to the closest millimeter and rounded to the closest sixteenth of an inch. The dimensions generally noted are image, sheet, and mount. “Sheet (trimmed to image)” indicates that the sheet and image are the same size.
For albums, image size and page size are listed.
Two sets of dimensions are listed for Autochromes. The first indicates the image size as it appears within the masked borders; the second indicates the full size of the plate. In the few cases where an Autochrome was mounted in its original handling mat, only image size could be determined.
Two sets of dimensions—image and sheet—are listed for photogravures other than those from Camera Work, for which only image size is listed.
Accession and Estate Numbers
The Gallery’s accession number is followed by the Stieglitz Estate number. Before dividing photographs from the Estate among various institutions (see Stieglitz Collections, below), Georgia O’Keeffe and Doris Bry sorted them by image (defined as the negative image). Each print made from the same negative was given the same Estate number. In rare instances, prints made from the same negative were assigned different numbers, probably resulting from extreme variances in cropping or exposure. Such cases are indicated in the remarks. In other instances, the Estate number is unclear and indicated with a question mark (?). The Autochromes and photogravures bound into Camera Work were not given Estate numbers.
Information regarding the titling and dating of a work is included in the remarks, along with other facts such as the identification of a subject or location. Individuals are identified under the first photograph in which they appear. Short biographies with life dates can also be found in a separate glossary of Key Set people and places.
Quotes from Stieglitz’s letters and writings, and those of his contemporaries, have been included only when they add substantive information about titles, dates, or his understanding of a photograph at the time it was made.
The Stieglitz Collections are defined as those institutions that received photographs as gifts from Stieglitz during his lifetime, or received or acquired them from the Alfred Stieglitz Estate. These institutions include: The Art Institute of Chicago (151 prints, received 1949; 19 lantern slides, received 1950 and 1951; 10 Autochromes, received 1952); Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, New Haven (64 prints and 12 Autochromes, received from 1949 to 1953); Carl Van Vechten Gallery, Fisk University, Nashville (19 prints, received 1949 [now owned jointly with the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas]); George Eastman Museum, Rochester (83 prints, 6 Autochromes, and 29 lantern slides, received 1951); Library of Congress, Washington (58 prints, received 1949); The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (22 prints, received 1928; 20 prints [made in collaboration with Clarence H. White], received 1933; 50 prints and 4 Autochromes, received 1949 and 1955; and 74 prints [portraits of Georgia O’Keeffe], acquired 1997); Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (27 prints, received 1924; 28 prints, received 1950; 7 prints [portraits of Georgia O’Keeffe], acquired 1995); The Museum of Modern Art, New York (11 prints, received 1942; 8 prints, received 1943; 52 prints, received 1950; 5 Autochromes and 73 lantern slides, received 1953 and returned to the donor in 1965; 9 prints [portraits of Georgia O’Keeffe], acquired 1984); National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo (46 prints, received 1954); Philadelphia Museum of Art (68 prints, received 1949); The Phillips Collection, Washington (19 prints, received 1949); and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (66 prints, received 1949).
All Stieglitz photographs in the collections listed above have been identified and examined by the author, Sarah Greenough, but only those that correspond to prints in the Gallery’s collection are included here, with their accession numbers, if known. Different inscriptions and orientations appear within parentheses; different print types are within brackets.
Other Collections lists collections other than Stieglitz Collections that own a print corresponding to the Gallery’s photograph. Considerable effort has been made to locate other Stieglitz photographs. In all, more than 500 entities and people across the world—museums, galleries, corporations, foundations, auction houses, and collectors—have been contacted since 2017 to ascertain whether they own any Stieglitz photographs. More than 350 have responded. Information is current as of February 28, 2019.
As with the Stieglitz Collections, only those photographs corresponding with works in the Gallery’s collection are listed. The accession numbers of those in public collections are included, if known. Photogravures have not been listed in Other Collections.
Stieglitz Collection institutions, including the National Gallery of Art, have been listed under Other Collections in instances where they have a Key Set corresponding photograph that was not received as a gift from Stieglitz during his lifetime, and that was not received or acquired from the Alfred Stieglitz Estate.
Lists and documents, contemporary reviews, and installation photographs for more than 180 exhibitions during Stieglitz’s lifetime were studied to determine which of the works in the Gallery’s collection might have been included. These are listed chronologically, with the exhibition date followed by city and, if necessary, venue. If known, the catalog number, title, date, and type of print are listed within parentheses.
More than 150 American, British, German, Austrian, and French photographic and other art journals from the 1880s through 1946 were systematically surveyed for reproductions of Stieglitz’s works presently in the Gallery’s collection. Only publications that include a reproduction of the work are listed.
All inscriptions by Stieglitz are transcribed orthographically. Brackets indicate illegibility. Inscriptions by later hands follow the Stieglitz inscriptions.
One hundred fifty-seven prints include the notation “treated by Steichen.” After Stieglitz’s death, O’Keeffe asked Edward Steichen to treat many of the palladium prints to reduce their discoloration. This issue is addressed in the Practices and Processes section of this Online Edition.
Exhibition history lists the exhibitions since Stieglitz’s death in 1946 in which the Gallery’s specific print has appeared.
Bibliography lists publications since 1946 in which the Gallery’s specific print is reproduced.
Camera Work Photogravures
The Key Set includes Alfred Stieglitz’s personal copy of the entire run of Camera Work. However, the volumes are bound so tightly that they could not be safely photographed. We are grateful to the Philadelphia Museum of Art for providing digital files of their corresponding Camera Work photogravures and permitting us to reproduce them in this Online Edition.
Barbara Buhler Lynes, Georgia O’Keeffe: Catalogue Raisonné (New Haven, 1999)
Yale Collection of American Literature
Please contact the Department of Photographs at the National Gallery of Art ([email protected]) if you find information that is incorrect or should be updated.