Front / Recto

  • Title Adiantum pedatum (Maidenhair Fern. Young Unfurling Fronds Enlarged 8 Times) (Adiantum pedatum [Junge gerollte Blätter in 8facher Vergrößerung])
  • Negative Date 1898–1926
  • Print Date 1924–32
  • Medium Gelatin silver print
  • Dimensions Image 11 11/16 × 9 3/8" (29.7 × 23.8 cm)
  • Place Taken Berlin
  • Credit Line Thomas Walther Collection. Gift of James Thrall Soby, by exchange
  • MoMA Accession Number 1626.2001
  • Copyright © 2015 Karl Blossfeldt / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Back / Verso

  • Mount Type No mount
  • Marks and Inscriptions Inscribed in pencil on sheet verso, top left: 230 f 12/[illegible]. Inscribed in pencil on sheet verso, bottom left: Farn.
  • Provenance The artist, Berlin; by inheritance to the artist's estate (the artist's second wife, Helene Blossfeldt), Berlin, 1932 [1]; to the Blossfeldt-Löchner family, Schielo, Germany [2]; to Karl Blossfeldt Archiv/Stiftung Ann und Jürgen Wilde, Zülpich-Mülheim, Germany, 1989 [3]; to Werner Bokelberg, Hamburg [4]; to Hans P. Kraus, Jr. Inc., New York, 1991 [5]; purchased by Thomas Walther, April 13, 1991 [6]; purchased by The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2001.
    [1] MacGill/Walther 2001(3), p. 2.
    [2] Jürgen Wilde, letter to Audrey Sands, October 1, 2013.
    [3] MacGill/Walther 2001(3), p. 2; and Wilde, letter to Simon Bieling, May 12, 2005.
    [4] MacGill/Walther 2001(3), p. 2; and Werner Bokelberg, telephone conversation with Maria Morris Hambourg, September 2013.
    [5] Hans P. Kraus, letter to Sands, September 30, 2013.
    [6] Hans P. Kraus, Jr. Inc. invoice no. 001016, April 13, 1991.


  • Retouch Detail
    Detail showing aqueous retouching applied with a brush. The area of detail is 14 x 22 mm. Department of Conservation, MoMA
  • Surface Sheen Matte
  • Techniques Retouching (additive)
    Enlargement via lateral projection
  • PTM
    View of the recto of the artwork made using reflectance transformation imaging (RTI) software, which exaggerates subtle surface details and renders the features of the artwork plainly visible. Department of Conservation, MoMA
  • Micro-raking
    Raking-light close-up image, as shot. Area of detail is 6.7 x 6.7 mm. Department of Conservation, MoMA
    Raking-light close-up image, processed. Processing included removal of color, equalization of the histogram, and sharpening, all designed to enhance visual comparison. Department of Conservation, MoMA

Paper Material

  • Format Metric
  • Weight Single weight
  • Thickness (mm) 0.17
  • UV Fluorescence Recto negative
    Verso negative
  • Fiber Analysis Softwood bleached sulfite 72%
    Grass 15%
    Rag 10%
    Bast 2%
  • Material Techniques Developing-out paper
  • XRF

    This work was determined to be a gelatin silver print via X-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectrometry.

    The following elements have been positively identified in the work, through XRF readings taken from its recto and verso (or from the mount, where the verso was not accessible):

    • Recto: S, Ca, Zn, Sr, Ag, Ba
    • Verso: Al, Si, S, K, Ca, Fe, Zn, Sr, Ba

    The graphs below show XRF spectra for three areas on the print: two of the recto—from areas of maximum and minimum image density (Dmax and Dmin)—and one of the verso or mount. The background spectrum represents the contribution of the XRF instrument itself. The first graph shows elements identified through the presence of their characteristic peaks in the lower energy range (0 to 8 keV). The second graph shows elements identified through the presence of their characteristic peaks in the higher energy range (8 to 40 keV).

    Areas examined: Recto (Dmax: black; Dmin: green), Verso or Mount (blue), Background (red)
    Elements identified: Al, Si, S, K, Ca, Ag, Ba
    Areas examined: Recto (Dmax: black; Dmin: green), Verso or Mount (blue), Background (red)
    Elements identified: Fe, Zn, Sr, Ag

In Context

Historical Publications

  • Breuer, Robert. “Grüne Architektur.” Uhu 2, no. 9 (June 1926): 33 (as Die “Bischofstäbe,” mit denen das junge Blattgefieder des Farns alljährlich die Erde durchbricht [fünffache Vergrößerung]).

    Blossfeldt, Karl, and Karl Nierendorf. Urformen der Kunst: Photographische Pflanzenbilder, pl. 55 (as Adiantum pedatum. Haarfarn. Junge gerolhe Blätter in 8facher Vergrößerung). Berlin: Ernst Wasmuth A.G., 1928.

    Die Werag 4, no. 22 (June 2, 1929): cover (as Junge gerollte Blätter eines Haarfarns 8-fach vergrößert).

    Ozenfant, Amédée. Art, p. 255 (as quand nature est “ionique”). Paris: Jean Budry, 1929.

    ———. Foundations of Modern Art, p. 271 (as Nature in Ionic Mood). London: John Rodker, 1931.

    Das Deutsche Lichtbild: Jahresschau 1935, p. 38 (as Junge Blätter des Haarfarns, etwa 6fach). Berlin: Bruno Schultz Verlag, 1935.

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