“ONE OF THE SEMINAL FIGURES OF 20TH-CENTURY PHOTOGRAPHY”: VINTAGE GELATIN SILVER PRINT, THREE CHILDREN AT THE DOCKS, FROM W. EUGENE SMITH’S PRIVATE COLLECTION
SMITH, W. Eugene. Photograph. Hitachi, Ltd.—Three Children at the Docks. No place, circa 1961. Vintage gelatin silver print (measures 15 by 10 inches), matted (total measures 20 by 16 inches), Smith’s estate inkstamp on print verso, labels on mat verso. $4200.
Vintage gelatin silver print from the estate of W. Eugene Smith, a dramatic image of three Japanese children lit within a frame of imposing machines, taken circa 1961 and chosen by Smith for his 1963 photobook Japan… A Chapter of Image. This print with Smith’s estate inkstamp on the verso was featured in a highly praised 1996 New York gallery exhibit.
W. Eugene Smith’s dramatic gelatin silver print of three Japanese children framed by the imposing shadows of massive machines, standing within a small square of light, offers startling counterpoint to the famous image of his two children in The Walk to Paradise Garden (1946). In this boldly composed image, however, the Japanese children facing the camera appear overwhelmed by a machine age that has overtaken the promise of Smith’s earlier lyric garden. Taken in the year from 1961-2 when Smith “undertook a project on behalf of the Japanese manufacturing company Hitachi” (Mora & Hill, 294), he chose this image as one of the powerful concluding views of his acclaimed photobook Japan… A Chapter of Image (1963). The formal authority and mythic contest of modernity and tradition that propels this image confirm Smith’s status as “one of the seminal figures of 20th-century photography” (New York Times). Print with inkstamp on the verso reading “Photograph by W. Eugene Smith: This authenticated photograph was in the private collection of W. Eugene Smith at the time of his death—October 15, 1978.” Mat with two small labels on verso, including that of New York’s Lowinsky Gallery, which exhibited this print and others from the estate in early 1996.
A fine print.