EDWARD WESTON (1886–1958)
Pepper No. 30, 1930
gelatin silver print, mounted on board, printed mid to late 1940s
initialed and dated 'EW 1930' in pencil (mount, recto); signed, titled and dated in pencil (mount, verso)
image/sheet: 914 x 714 in. (23.4 x 18.4 cm.)
mount: 1614 x 1312 in. (41.2 x 34.2 cm.)
Robert Koch Gallery, San Francisco;
acquired from the above by the present owner, 1985.
Nancy Newhall, The Photographs of Edward Weston, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1946, p. 18.
Nancy Newhall (ed.), Edward Weston: The Flame of Recognition, Aperture Foundation, New York, 1965, p. 35.
Nancy Newhall (ed.), The Daybooks of Edward Weston, Aperture Foundation, New York, 1973, pl. 5, n.p.
Keith F. Davis, Edward Weston: One Hundred Photographs, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, 1982, p. 20.
Amy Conger, Edward Weston: Photographs from the Collection of the Center for Creative Photography, Center for Creative Photography, Tucson, 1992, fig. 606/1930.
Terence Pitts et al., Edward Weston: Forms of Passion, Harry N. Abrams, New York, 1995, p. 171.
Theodore E. Stebbins, Jr, et al., Edward Weston: Photography and Modernism, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1999, pl. 38, n.p.
Sarah M. Lowe et al., Edward Weston: Life Work, Lodima Press, Revere, 2003, pl. 43, n.p.
Sarah M. Lowe, Tina Modotti & Edward Weston: The Mexico Years, Merrell Publishers Limited, London, 2004, p. 134.
Amy Conger, Edward Weston: The Form of the Nude, Phaidon Press Limited, London, 2005, p. 69.
Brought to you by

Lot Essay

Weston's first interest in the pepper as a subject came in 1927, not long after his return to California from Mexico. The Mexican period was important in organizing his way of seeing. Trudy Wilner Stack observes, " was not until Mexico that Weston addressed the object for itself, in isolation from a scene, tableau, or other multi-part composition. Rather than setting subjects off in relation to each other, building a picture piece by piece like a painter, Weston embraced his subject whole, gathering it fully within the frame, flush with the existing form that so excited him...In his Mexican home he made photographs; strong, personal images of what surrounded him: toilet, washbasin, the figure and face of his companion and lover, small handmade toys and folk art objects, fruit. He thought these subjects were beautiful and exquisite in and of themselves and recorded them plainly, accentuating their form and character with his fine technique and carefully chosen views." Weston continued to develop this vision upon his return to California, choosing to focus much of his professional and personal work on nudes and still-lifes (Forms of Passion, pp. 135-136).

In 1929 Weston decided to work with the pepper again. Becoming increasingly fascinated by its varied forms, he recorded making twenty-six negatives of the vegetable. "I have been working so enthusiastically with the two peppers,-stimulated as I have not been for months...They are like sculpture, carved obsidian, and can be placed with my finest expression." The peppers from this period are set against a neutral background of muslin or cardboard (Daybooks II, pp. 128-131).

A year later, in 1930, Weston continued his investigation of the pepper, producing nearly thirty different images during a four-day period in August. It was during this final period of experimentation that Weston discovered a new setting for the object: a tin funnel. Weston's meticulous approach to composition and lighting is evident in the present lot. The play of light and shadow across the pepper's surface creates a sense of depth and dimension, enhancing the visual interest of the image. The sharp focus and tight framing draw attention to the pepper's unique contours, inviting viewers to appreciate its inherent complexity and elegance. Pepper No. 30 stands as an iconic representation of Edward Weston’s legacy. This image, featured on the cover of his Daybooks volume II, encapsulates Weston’s belief that the pepper series represents a pinnacle of his creative achievement.

The present lot is initialed, mounted and was printed in the mid to late 1940s. It was during this era that Weston focused on perfecting his printing technique, which you can see here in the sharpness of detail and deep tonal range. Other prints of this image are located in the collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and The Art Institute of Chicago.

Related Articles

Sorry, we are unable to display this content. Please check your connection.

More from
Place your bid Condition report

A Christie's specialist may contact you to discuss this lot or to notify you if the condition changes prior to the sale.

I confirm that I have read this Important Notice regarding Condition Reports and agree to its terms. View Condition Report