“COMPANY AND COUNTRY—WHEREVER I WAS, THERE WERE MY SUBJECTS”: VINTAGE GELATIN SILVER PRINT FROM W. EUGENE SMITH’S PRIVATE COLLECTION, FEATURED IN HIS JAPAN… A CHAPTER OF IMAGE
SMITH, W. Eugene. Photograph. Hitachi, Ltd—Two Women on Street. No place, circa 1961. Vintage gelatin silver print (measures 15-1/2 by 10 inches), matted (total measures 20 by 16 inches), Smith’s estate stamp on print verso, gallery exhibit label on mat verso. $4200.
Vintage gelatin silver print from the estate of W. Eugene Smith, his image of women on a street that reflects his stated aim of “linking photographically the two sides of Japan.” Taken circa 1961 and chosen 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.
In 1961 W. Eugene Smith devoted a year to a project commissioned by Japan’s Hitachi Ltd. To accomplish his goal of “linking photographically the two sides of Japan: the wartime one that he knew, and the present-day great industrial country,” Smith wrote that he “carried many cameras… Company and country—wherever I was, there were my subjects… in the eloquent laboring of the land” (Japan, 16). This vintage gelatin silver print of two women on a street, in traditional dress with modern overcoats, wonderfully captures the subtle emotions on their faces and on those of several uniformed nurses in the background. Smith selected the image for inclusion in his photobook Japan… A Chapter of Image (1963). 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 small label of New York’s Lowinsky Gallery, which exhibited this print and others from the estate in early 1996.
A fine print.