Front / Recto
- Title From the Back Window at “291”
- Negative Date April 3, 1915
- Print Date 1916
- Medium Platinum print
- Dimensions Image 9 3/4 × 7 11/16" (24.7 × 19.5 cm)Sheet 9 15/16 × 7 15/16" (25.3 × 20.1 cm)Mount 19 15/16 × 15" (50.6 × 38.1 cm)
- Place Taken New York
- Credit Line Thomas Walther Collection. Gift of Dorothy Norman, by exchange
- MoMA Accession Number 1870.2001
- Copyright © 2015 Estate of Alfred Stieglitz / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Alfred Stieglitz was an adventurous perfectionist, always ready to try a new photographic paper but vocal when materials failed to meet his expectations. In 1915 he tried three different gelatin silver papers and three Platinum papers, stocking up on his favorites. His camera equipment, on the other hand, was deceptively simple. That year, in the middle of an April blizzard, Stieglitz set his hefty 8 by 10 inch (20.3 by 25.4 centimeter) Eastman View camera in the open window, inserted a glass plate, and captured the wintry scene. He often did his printing at Lake George, a world away from New York City, but that year the “miserable” summer prevented him from printing until fall. Working outdoors, he exposed a carefully chosen platinum paper through the negative to the sun and then processed the print in a rustic darkroom. He attached the untrimmed and unretouched platinum print to one of his signature mounts and presented it to Marie Rapp, his devoted secretary at 291 (his New York gallery), on April 24, 1916. Soon after the creation of this print, Stieglitz was no longer able to purchase high-quality platinum papers due to wartime sanctions on the domestic use of platinum, and he was forced to turn his creative energies to Palladium, Silver-Platinum, and gelatin silver papers.
—Lee Ann Daffner
Back / Verso
- Mount Type Mount (original)
- Marks and Inscriptions Inscribed in pencil on mount recto, bottom left: From the Back Window at “291”/April 3–1915. [underlined]/To Marie/from AS/Apr. 24–1916.
The artist, New York; given to Marie Rapp, New York, 1916 ; purchased by George Tice, New Jersey; sold through Sotheby's New York (sale 6216, lot 84) to Thomas Walther, October 9, 1991 ; purchased by The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2001.
 MacGill/Walther 2001(3), p. 22; and inscription by artist on mount recto. Marie Rapp was Stieglitz's gallery assistant at 291 Gallery in New York from 1911 until it closed in 1917.
 Sotheby’s invoice no. 6216 107, October 9, 1991.
- Format Imperial
- UV Fluorescence Recto negative Verso no data
- Fiber Analysis No fiber data available
- Material Techniques Platinum print
This work was determined to be a platinum 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: Si, K, Ca, Ti, Cr, Mn, Fe, Zn, Pt, Pb
- Mount: Al, Si, P, S, K, Ca, Ti, Cr, Mn, Zn, Pb
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).
- Cultural Hubs New York