Balzac, The Silhouette—4 A.M,  Edward Steichen.

Late in the summer of 1908 Rodin moved the plaster of his sculpture of Honoré de Balzac out of his studio and into the open air so that Steichen, who disliked its chalky aspect in the daylight, could photograph it by the light of the moon. Waiting through several exposures as long as an hour each, Steichen made this exposure at 4:00 A.M., when the moonlight transformed the plaster into a monumental silhouette against the brooding nocturnal landscape. Steichen recalled that when he presented his finished pigment prints some weeks later, an elated Rodin exclaimed, “You will make the world understand my Balzac through your pictures. They are like Christ walking on the desert.” Stieglitz reproduced this image along with nine of Rodin’s drawings in “Camera Work” in July 1911.

Edward Steichen’s “The Maypole (Empire State Building)”

Edward Steichen was born on this day in 1879. In addition to being a photographer himself, Steichen was Director of MoMA’s Department of Photography and curated the museum’s popular exhibition The Family of Man. Steichen took this photo of the Empire State Building a year after its construction ended, and used two separate negatives to create the photograph’s dizzying effect.

[Edward Steichen. The Maypole (Empire State Building). 1932. Gelatin silver print. Gift of the photographer. © 2017 The Estate of Edward Steichen/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.]