Front / Recto

  • Title Florence Henri
  • Negative Date 1927
  • Print Date 1927–35
  • Medium Gelatin silver print
  • Dimensions Image 14 5/8 × 11" (37.2 × 27.9 cm)
    Sheet 15 11/16 × 12" (39.8 × 30.5 cm)
    Mount 15 7/8 × 12 3/16" (40.4 × 31 cm)
  • Place Taken Dessau
  • Credit Line Thomas Walther Collection. Gift of Thomas Walther
  • MoMA Accession Number 1790.2001
  • Copyright © 2015 Lucia Moholy Estate/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
  • Description

    Between 1924 and 1930, and especially at the Bauhaus between 1926 and 1928, Lucia Moholy photographed dozens of Bauhaus students, masters, and their families, creating often startlingly close views with her large-format camera. Within very narrow parameters (rarely including more than head and shoulders), Moholy conveys her sensitivity to her sitters: a downward glance, a furrowed brow, a tilt of the head endows each with arresting individuality. The Czech-born Moholy arrived at the Bauhaus in Weimar in April 1923 along with her husband of two years, László Moholy-Nagy, who had been appointed to teach there. Her background in publishing, her interest in photography (as well as practical and theoretical issues of reproduction), and the absence of teaching responsibilities made her a natural choice to produce images of the Bauhaus and its products in Weimar, and later Dessau. In the summer of 1923, Moholy apprenticed with a local Weimar photographer, gaining the technical skills necessary to clarify and celebrate the school’s mission and support its appeal for funds.

    Other than technique, the self-effacing excellence of her architectural work and her images of Bauhaus design products bear little in common with the bold innovation of her portraits. Having printed many enlargements for her husband, Moholy was well aware of the visual impact afforded by large prints, and she had the experience and talent required to produce them. The glass plate negative from which this image was made is the largest Moholy used (18 by 24 centimeters [7 1/8 by 9 7/16 inches]), exposed in a large wooden camera on a tripod. The advantage to working with these fragile and cumbersome glass plates is their exceptionally high resolution, as well as the possibility that one could retouch directly on the negative. This print reveals extensive Retouching, both in the negative and on the print. Moholy cropped this negative, and many others, by placing strips of pressure-sensitive tape directly on the glass, allowing her to make multiple prints with the same cropping. This is one of three known large-scale prints from this negative, and it is materially identical to her large print of the workshop building at the Dessau Bauhaus (MoMA 1789.2001). These prints may have been made in Moholy’s well-appointed Dessau darkroom or, slightly later, in Berlin, when an increasing number of exhibition opportunities likely encouraged her to make larger prints for public display.

    —Lee Ann Daffner, Sarah Hermanson Meister

Back / Verso

  • Mount Type Mount (original)
  • Marks and Inscriptions

    Inscribed in blue pencil on sheet verso, center: 29,5 X 23,5 ↕ and 31 [crossed out]. Stamped in black ink on sheet verso, center: 2026. Inscribed in red pencil on sheet verso, bottom left: die pariser malerin [1]/florence henri [florence henri is underlined]. Inscribed in blue pencil on sheet verso, bottom right: 24 [crossed out]. Stamped in black ink on sheet verso, bottom right: FOTO LUCIA MOHOLY–BERLIN and Ohne Erlaubnis/Reproduktion verboten. Stamped in black ink on sheet verso, bottom right: FOTO LUCIA MOHOLY–BERLIN [LUCIA is underlined]. Inscribed in pencil on sheet verso, bottom right: W [illegible]/Spichernstr. 20. Stamped in black ink on mount verso, bottom right: COPYRIGHT BY LUCIA MOHOLY/39 MECKLENBURGH SQUARE, LONDON, W.C.1 [second line, except for LONDON, crossed out]. Inscribed in pencil on mount verso, bottom left: 54. Inscribed in pencil on mount verso, bottom left: Moholy 17.

    [1] "the Parisian painter."
  • Provenance The artist, London; to Prakapas Gallery, Bronxville, N.Y., December 1983 [1]; purchased by Thomas Walther, April 1984 [2]; given to The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2001.
    [1] MacGill/Walther 2001(4), p. 10; William F. Cuozzi (on behalf of Dorothy Augusta Prakapas), letter to Maria Morris Hambourg, October 2013; and Prakapas Gallery record for date of acquisition from Lucia Moholy.
    [2] MacGill/Walther 2000(2), p. 55; and Prakapas Gallery invoice, April 13, 1984.


  • Retouch Detail
    Detail showing retouching on the negative. The area of detail is 14 x 22 mm. Department of Conservation, MoMA
    Detail showing aqueous retouching applied with a brush. The area of detail is 14 x 22 mm. Department of Conservation, MoMA
  • Surface Sheen Glossy
  • Techniques Retouching (additive)
    Retouching in negative
  • PTM
    Detail 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
  • UV Fluorescence Recto negative
    Verso negative
  • Fiber Analysis Softwood bleached sulfite 47%
    Hardwood bleached sulfite 1%
    Softwood bleached soda 1%
    Grass 50%
    Rag 1%
  • 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: P, S, Cl, Ca, Zn, Rb, Sr, Ag, Ba, Pb
    • Verso: Al, Si, S, K, Ca, Fe, Zn, Rb, Sr, Ba, 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).

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

In Context

Historical Exhibitions

  • Museum Folkwang, Essen. Internationale Ausstellung Fotografie der Gegenwart. Organized by Kurt-Wilhelm Kästner. January 20–February 17, 1929. (traveling exhibition)

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