Saturday, August 8, 2009

Heavy Roses, Steichen

Heavy Roses, Voulangis, France, 1914, is said to be the last photograph taken by Edward
Steichen in France before the Great War.

'Heavy Roses' seems to capture forever the closing moments of the fin de siecle that preceded the collapse of Europe into darkness. Evocative of summers long past, I can never think of the image without imagining the colours of the petals, their margins fading to mauve, with their heavy scent. All summer long, I keep bowls of heavy roses on my table and next to my bed, I hold the colour in my mind like a fragrance.

The rich painterly quality of the image resonates with Steichen's youthful aspirations to be a painter, aspirations abandoned after the war, when he destroyed all of his paintings. Later Steichen went on to become a curator at the Museum of Modern Art for fifteen years and was responsible for many important exhibitions. He became chief photographer for Condé Nast Publications in 1923, publishing regularly in Vogue and Vanity Fair for the next fifteen years.

Returning to the scented colour that words fail to capture, I have found some images to share a little later.


little augury said...

What a gorgeous image from Steichen. Hard to imagine the canvases he destroyed.He photographs are just so compelling. I just finished a post with a similar photo by Mapplethorpe, Beaton. I am going to add your post here to my comments section.

balsamfir said...

Never would have guessed Steichen.

Diane Dorrans Saeks said...


A print of this photo hangs on a wall two blocks from where I live. The owner is a photograph collector with major pieces in her collection. This photograph, in person, is much more intense, more poetic, more tragic, more beautiful, and more weighted with meaning. Thanks for a lovely post--and cheers to my friends in the antipodes,

Empire Design said...

Thank you for your comment Diane, I agree, the prints are far more intense, I also own one and it remains one of my favourite pieces

kind regards

Hels said...

Whenever I think about the late Victorian or Edwardian eras, or the Belle Epoque, those generations' creativity and gorgeousness are fleeting. Of course it is only with hindsight that we know about the closing moments of the fin de siecle (broadly defined) and the collapse of Europe into darkness.

I cannot imagine that Edwardians knew what was coming. Even as those beautiful young boys marched into the trenches in 1914, they STILL thought they would be home by Christmas.

How unbearably tragic
Art and Architecture, mainly

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