Front / Recto
- Title The Octopus
- Negative Date 1909
- Print Date 1910–20
- Medium Gelatin silver print
- Dimensions Image 22 1/8 × 16 3/4" (56.2 × 42.6 cm)Sheet 22 3/16 × 16 15/16" (56.4 × 43 cm)Mount 22 3/16 × 16 15/16" (56.4 × 43 cm)
- Place Taken New York
- Credit Line Thomas Walther Collection. Gift of Thomas Walther
- MoMA Accession Number 1654.2001
- Copyright © George Eastman House
Back / Verso
- Mount Type Mount (original)
- Marks and Inscriptions Inscribed in pencil on mount verso, center: 6 3/4". Inscribed in pencil on mount verso, bottom left: 43–48 [numbers circled individually, 43 crossed out]. Inscribed in pencil on mount verso, bottom left: 53 [circled and crossed out]. Inscribed in pencil on mount verso, bottom left: The Octopus, New York, 1912.
The artist, London; given to George Eastman House, Rochester, N.Y., 1967 ; to Frank Kolodny ; to Ezra Mack, Greenwich, Conn. ; purchased by Thomas Walther; given to The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2001.
 Frank Kolodny, conversation with Maria Morris Hambourg, New York, spring 2013.
 Ezra Mack, telephone conversation with Simon Bieling, June 22, 2004.
- Surface Sheen Semireflective
- Techniques Mount Retouching (additive) Coating Enlargement Retouching in negative Retouching (reductive)
- Format Imperial
- UV Fluorescence Recto negative Verso no data
- Fiber Analysis Softwood bleached sulfite 12% Rag 62% Bast 24% Softwood bleached kraft/soda 2.5%
- Material Techniques Developing-out paper
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: P, S, Cl, Ca, Zn, Sr, Ag, Ba
- Verso or mount: not available
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).
Coburn, Alvin. “Metropolitan Pictures.” Metropolitan Magazine 30, no. 3 (June 1909): 314 (as The Giant Shadow on Madison Square).
The Goupil Gallery, London. Camera Pictures by Alvin Langdon Coburn, no. 53 (as The Octopus, in the series New York from Its Pinnacles). London: The Ballantyne Press, 1913.
The Goupil Gallery, London. Camera Pictures by Alvin Langdon Coburn (no. 53, as The Octopus, in the series New York from Its Pinnacles). October 1913.
- Cultural Hubs New York