The Terminal, New York, 1893
large-format photogravure on tissue, mounted on original board, printed c. 1910
signed, titled and dated in pencil (margin); annotated 'Mrs. Luhrman/ 12E8' in pencil (mount, verso)
image: 10 x 13 1/4 in. (25.3 x 33.6 cm.)
sheet: 11 x 15 3/4 in. (27.8 x 40 cm.)
mount: 12 x 16 in. (30.5 x 40.7 cm.)
Christie's, New York, October 8, 1993, lot 78;
acquired from the above sale by the present owner.
Alfred Stieglitz, Camera Work, no. 36, October 1911, pl. XV.
Jonathan Green, Camera Work: A Critical Anthology, Aperture, New York, 1973, p. 312.
Marianne Fulton Margolis (ed.), Camera Work: A Pictorial Guide, Dover, New York, 1978, p. 101.
Martha A. Sandweiss, Masterworks of American Photography: The Amon Carter Museum Collection, Fort Worth, 1982, pl. 77.
William Innes Homer, Alfred Stieglitz and the Photo-Secession, Little Brown and Co., Boston, 1983, p. 18.
Weston Naef, In Focus: Alfred Stieglitz: Photographs from the J. Paul Getty Museum, J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, 1995, pl. 2, p. 12.
Richard Whelan, Alfred Stieglitz: A Biography, Little Brown and Co., Boston, 1995, n.p.
Sarah Greenough, Alfred Stieglitz: The Key Set, Volume One 1886-1922, Abrams/National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 2002, pp. 56-59, cat. nos. 92-96.
Malcolm Daniel, Stieglitz, Steichen, Strand: Masterworks From The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2010, pl. 5.

Lot Essay

The Terminal is one of the earliest and most important of Stieglitz’s New York City images. Made some five years before Eugene Atget began documenting the streets of old Paris, The Terminal speaks to the dawning realization in Stieglitz of the potential for artistic expression in his hometown.

'From 1893 to 1895 I often walked the streets of New York downtown, near the East River, taking my hand camera with me. I wandered around the Tombs [jailhouse], the old Post Office, Five Points. I loathed the dirty streets, yet I was fascinated. I wanted to photograph everything I saw,’ he recounted to a friend. '[One day] I found myself in front of the old Post Office. The Third Avenue street railway and the Madison Avenue car systems had their terminals there, opposite the old Astor House. It was extremely cold. Snow lay on the ground. A driver in a rubber coat was watering his steaming car horses. How fortunate the horses seemed, having a human being to tend them … The steaming horses being watered on a cold winter day, the snow-covered streets … [expressed] my own sense of loneliness in my own country' (as quoted in Naef, In Focus: Alfred Stieglitz, p. 12).

Having returned from almost a decade in Europe, lower Manhattan, with its throngs of workers and construction projects, docks, subways and dirty streets, was an utter contrast to picturesque Europe. The grandeur and forces of modernity coursing through the city, however, inspired a body of work that blazed a trail for the fledgling art of photography. The Terminal, along with The Hand of Man (Lot 13) and The Steerage (Lot 15).

Like The Hand of Man and The Steerage, The Terminal was reproduced as a small-format photogravure in the influential Stieglitz issue of Camera Work, no. 36 (1911). It also holds the distinction, again along with The Hand of Man and The Steerage, of having been contact-printed on gelatin-silver paper by Stieglitz in the 1920s–1930s in very limited quantities.

Though the present photogravure is dated by Stieglitz ‘1892’, in The Key Set, Sarah Greenough places the date of the image in 1893, the documented year of Winter, Fifth Avenue.

Greenough locates nine large-format photogravures of The Terminal in the following Stieglitz collections: The National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.; The Art Institute of Chicago; Carl Van Vechten Gallery, Fisk University, Nashville; Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Philadelphia Museum of Art; National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo; and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (Greenough, The Key Set, p. 58).

More from An American Journey: The Diann G. and Thomas A. Mann Collection of Photographic Masterworks

View All
View All