Heavy Roses, Voulangis, France, 1914, is said to be the last photograph Steichen took in France before the Great War. The sensual blooms dying a slow death seem to mirror what was about to happen to the world. The photograph has a rich painterly quality—when it was taken Steichen still had aspirations to be a painter. Following the war Steichen returned to Voulangis and destroyed all of his paintings.
This print was made by master photogravure printer Jon Goodman.
Edward Steichen is an immortal among photographers. He was one of the most prominent and influential figures of twentieth-century photography. During his long career he worked in a variety of styles in black-and-white and in color; his subjects ranged from portraits and landscapes to fashion and advertising to dance and sculpture. As a curator at the Museum of Modern Art for fifteen years, Steichen was responsible for many important exhibitions, including The Family of Man. He became chief photographer for Condé Nast Publications in 1923, publishing regularly in Vogue and Vanity Fair for the next fifteen years. His richest, most profound photographs were made between 1900 and 1927. It is the masterpieces from this period that Steichen asked Aperture to publish as hand-pulled photogravures. In 1961 Steichen was honored with a one-man show at MoMA. The Edward Steichen Photography Center was established at the museum in 1964. In 1967, he wrote, "Today I am no longer concerned with photography as an art form. I believe it is potentially the best medium for explaining man to himself and to his fellow man." Steichen died in West Redding, Connecticut, shortly before his ninety-fourth birthday.