Portrait of Alfred Stieglitz Eugene, Frank  (American, 1865-1936)

It was in portfolio form that the photogravures of Camera Notes best attained stature as independent works of art. While the journal’s gravure plates were always beautifully presented and greatly admired, they, nonetheless, remained a part or a larger whole—an issue of a magazine. Fully aware of this containerization, Stieglitz undertook two portfolio projects with Camera Notes gravures to further legitimize their artistic value. And, once again, he simultaneously promoted photography as a form of art and photogravure as a means of original image making. Published in 1899 and 1901 by Stieglitz’s publications committee of the Camera Club of New York, each portfolio contained eighteen photogravures, almost exclusively printed from the same plates used for Camera Notes.  What Stieglitz was doing here was asserting that the photogravures of Camera Notes were, in fact, worthy individual contemplation as artistic objects in their own right. By providing portfolios of loose gravure plates he both promoted the value of Camera Notes as a whole and made it possible for single images to be framed and exhibited without dismantling issues of the magazine.  Features of the portfolios themselves pointed to the significant and collective nature of the plates. Both sets were strictly limited to a numbered edition of one hundred fifty copies, most of which were subscribed to before publication. Subscribers were personally honored by having their name printed in their own copy, and each portfolio was signed by Stieglitz. A well-designed title page and table of contents, handsomely printed in red and black, accompanied the plates, all of which were enclosed in a green cloth-covered case stamped in gold with the seal of the Camera Club of New York. Of course, the photogravures themselves attracted the most attention. Printed either on transparent tissue or heavy stock, these gravures mimicked their counterparts in Camera Notes in both size and color. Many of them were trimmed and mounted on carefully chosen colored papers, like only a few of the photogravures in Camera Notes. These paper mounts were almost twice the size of the pages in Camera Notes. Giving the portfolio gravures a great deal of breathing room and endowing them with a rarified sensibility. [1]

Stieglitz and Frank Eugene were linked by an intensive and life-long friendship. An outward sign of that relationship was the reproduction of this portrait of Stieglitz by Eugene in The Amateur Photographer in July 1900 to illustrate an article on Stieglitz’ services to the Camera Club. Like Eugene, Stieglitz was the son of German immigrants and had begun to acquire works of Eugene’s for his private collection of art photography in 1900. As editor of Camera Notes he had frequently had Eugene’s works reproduced in that magazine. In 1901 a selection of motifs including "La Cigale," "Lady of Charlotte," "Portrait of Miss Jones" and this "Portrait of Alfred Stieglitz" appeared as photogravures in the portfolio American Pictorial Series II. From the beginning Stieglitz, as curator, had tried to integrate Eugene’s photographs into exhibitions in New York, Glasgow and Turin. Alongside Heinrich Kuhn, Ernst Juhl and Fritz Matthies-Masuren, Eugene was Stieglitz’ most important contact person in Germany. [2]

Reproduced / Exhibited

Doty, Robert M. Photo-secession: Photography As a Fine Art. N.Y: Eastman, 1960. p. 8.

Peterson, Christian A. Camera Work: Process & Image : [exhibition, Minneapolis, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, August 31-November 3, 1985, Seattle, Seattle Art Museum, November 22, 1985-February 2, 1986]. Minneapolis: Minneapolis Institute of arts, 1985. p. 8.

Homer, William I. Alfred Stieglitz and the Photo-Secession. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1983. no. 26.
ohlmann, Ulrich.
Frank Eugene: The Dream of Beauty. Munich: Nazraeli Press, 1996. no. 260.


[1] Peterson Christian A et al. Alfred Stieglitz’s Camera Notes. 1st ed. Published by the Minneapolis Institute of Arts in Association with W.W. Norton 1993.

[2] Eugene, Frank, and Ulrich Pohlmann. Frank Eugene, the Dream of Beauty. Munich: Nazraeli Press, 1995. Print. p 55

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