Netzflickerin (Mending Nets) Stieglitz, Alfred  (American, 1864-1946)

The subject of this important Stieglitz photograph, “Mending Nets”, is a young Dutch woman concentrating on her task of mending a fishing net on the dunes at Katwyk in North Holland. In 1899, writing in the publication Photographic Life 1, (July: pp. 11-12) Stieglitz says this is “My Favorite Picture”: “It is a most difficult and unsatisfactory task to single out one of my pictures as a favorite. But you insist, and so it must be done. Possibly, if I have any preference, it may be for Mending Nets, as it appeals to me more and more, and time is the true test of merit. Then, too, the picture brings before my mind’s eye the endless poetry of a most picturesque and fascinating lot of people, the Dutch fisher folk. What artistic temperament does not delight in studying them and portraying them either in art or literature! Mending Nets was the result of much study. It expresses the life of a young Dutch woman: every stitch in the mending of the fishing net, the very rudiment of her existence, brings forth a torrent of poetic thoughts in those who watch her sit there on the vast and seemingly endless dunes, toiling with that seriousness and peacefulness which is so characteristic of these sturdy people. All her hopes are concentrated in this occupation-it is her life. The picture was taken in 1894 at Katwyk. “My Favorite Picture”: reprinted in: Stieglitz on Photography: His Selected Essays and Notes: compiled and annotated by Richard Whelan: bibliography of Stieglitz’s writings compiled, with a preface, by Sarah Greenough: Aperture: 2000: p. 61

“This publication may well be the most important and valuable documentation of art photography in the German language but, because of its rarity, has remained virtually unknown.” In the History of Photography, Rolf H. Krauss

Between 1897-1908, 356 individual beautifully executedlarge format, hand-pulled photogravures and 318 tipped autotypes (halftones) were issued as part of 66 individual art folios in the German photographic art journal: Die Kunst in der Photographie.” -translated to The Art in Photography. Franz Goerke (1856-1931), the editor and publisher of this publication, was an important exponent of German art photography. Dr. Hermann Wilhelm Vogel, who taught the young Alfred Stieglitz photographic chemistry in Germany in his formative years, commented in a photographic review during its’ first year of publication (1897): Die Kunst in der Photographie is a …”totally new and original undertaking. Many waffle about art in photography, but what nonsense. Here (speaking of Goerke) we are dealing with the work of a sensitive expert.” 1.

Die Kunst in der Photographie was the first photographic journal to concern itself only with the photographic image and its aesthetics, and which treated art photography as an important international movement. In the introduction to the first issue Goerke wrote: "The development of amateur photography has reached a critical point. Out of the wide circle of amateurs has emerged a small community which sees more in photography than a playful hobby. A new era in amateur photography has thereby begun, the era of artistic and highly personal photography… The publisher has in this work set himself the task of presenting an overview of this kind of photography, its problems and achievements, through the medium of reproduction prints." (translated from the original German)

Die Kunst in der Photographie came out six years before the American influential publication Camera Work edited by Alfred Stieglitz and they used photographs by 23 of the same artists. Entire issues of the publication were dedicated to American photography (for example 1898: issue 1) and to the work of the Photographic Society of Philadelphia (1901: issue 6 and 1908: issue 3). It is difficult to deny this journal had an immense influence that has been largely ignored in the English-language histories of photography. (Luminous Lint)

Reproduced / Exhibited

Peterson, Christian A. Alfred Stieglitz’s Camera Notes. Minneapolis: Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 1993.

Greenough, Sarah, and Alfred Stieglitz. Alfred Stieglitz: The Key Set : the Alfred Stieglitz Collection of Photographs. Washington, D.C: National Gallery of Art; New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2002

Norman, Alfred Stieglitz: An American Seer, pl. 20

Valiant Knights of Daguerre: Selected Critical Essays on Photography and Profiles of Photographic Pioneers, p. 67

Thornton, Gene. Masters of the Camera: Stieglitz, Steichen & Their Successors. New York: Ridge Press, 1976

Hartmann, Sadakichi. Landscape and Figure Composition. New York: The Baker and Taylor Company, 1910. fig. 89

Newhall, Beaumont. The History of Photography: From 1839 to the Present. , 2012. p. 156

References

Stieglitz on Photography: His Selected Essays and Notes: compiled and annotated by Richard Whelan: bibliography of Stieglitz’s writings compiled, with a preface, by Sarah Greenough: Aperture: 2000: p. 61