The Lotus Screen: S. S. S. Steichen, Edward  (American, 1879-1973)

The Lotus Screen is Steichen’s painted portrait of Stieglitz’s sister, Selma Stieglitz Shubert. It is believed that Steichen had painted the screen that was used in situ for Selma’s sitting. One reviewer described the way The Lotus Screen achieves ‘a truly barbaric force,’ with its strong compositional line, its Fauvist acidic gold, orange, and purplish-black hues. Caffin noted Steichen’s tendency to use radiant or softened sunlight “psychologically speaking …to express the spirituality of things plainly seen; and to extract from the concrete appearances of daylight their abstract expression,” and technically speaking, “to escape the arbitrary restrictions of tonality and to harmonize the conflicts of local color, seen in the glow of natural light.” Although Steichen’s painted nocturnes continued to receive the most attention at this time, daylight and color characterized his new work.”

— Edward Steichen, Lives in Photography – Todd Bradshaw and William A. Ewing