In this enchanting photograph of the Staten Island Ferry by Alfred Stieglitz, part of the Stephen L. White Photograph Collection at auction March 23rd, we share the gaze of the urban commuter—craning, rushing, and impatient—bound for home.
Alfred Stieglitz, Going Home by Ferry, New York City, silver print, 1902; printed 1920s. Estimate: $50,000 to 75,000.
Stieglitz, one of New York’s most poetic photographers, captures both the intimacy and the modern isolation of the early twentieth century urban environment. New York City is the luminous background of the ferry, vividly juxtaposing the solitary individual and the teeming mass that is the city. The tiny figures in the foreground (including a horse in the lower left) are dwarfed by the city beyond and particularly so by the enormous, sublime plume of smoke rising in the distance. In this image, Stieglitz both confronts the city and keeps it at a distance, concealing its newness, tempering its cacophony, but moving, ever moving, towards it.