Edward Weston


"Little Boy in My Studio [Neil]," 1922

Palladium print on paper hinged to a thin board mount
Signed, titled, and dated in pencil at the lower edge of the mount: Edward Weston; with a notation in pencil on the mount, verso: 30
Image/Sheet: 9.5" H x 7.312" W; Mount: 18 " H x 14" W

  • Provenance: The Artist
    Frederick W. Davis, acquired from the above
    Private Collection, Southern California, by descent from the above
  • Notes: Edward Weston had been in Mexico City just shy of a month when he sat down on September 6, 1923, to write all three of the sons he had left behind in Glendale. His letter to his third son, Neil, born on December 6, 1914, was full of poignant, sentimental memories: "Beloved Grey-Boy! I love you more than a thousand peach blossoms—across miles of blue-sea water and big mountains I send you kisses—kisses—kisses. I am writing from my big studio room—it has high grey walls—higher than the one in my old studio—that ‘high bare wall' against which you lean in my picture of you….The other day when I sat here resting and dreaming—I thought of that night we walked to the river together—into the dark night. I could still feel your little confiding hand in mine—and see your furtive upward glances as though to be reassured that there was nothing to fear—We walked through the willows to that bridge under the mountain and sat there listening to the river and strange noises of night roving animals or restless birds—the stars winked and winked at us until at last the Sandman came and two sleepy heads wandered home to bed—Dear Peter Pan—write me often!"(1)

    Weston took "Little Boy in my Studio" in 1922, depicting his seven-year-old son as he folds himself into a corner, legs drawn up to his chest and head turned to the side. Weston also made at least two other variant images.(2) In one, Neil stands with his back to the viewer, arms stretched high above his head, and in the other, he faces forward, arms crooked behind his head, right hip cocked to one side, left knee bent. Although Weston refers to a "high bare wall" in his letter, in fact Neil poses in front of a series of freestanding panels covered by a burlap-like fabric that served as a neutral backdrop for many of Weston's portrait studies. The river Weston and his son walked to was the unpredictable Los Angeles River (still in its natural state before being lined with concrete in an attempt to prevent the periodic flooding that would destroy the "bridge under the mountain" in 1927). The riverbed was only a short hike from the Weston family home, which then stood at the southeast corner of Perlita Avenue and Verdant Street in what is now known as the Atwater Village neighborhood of Los Angeles.

    Very possibly Weston included this image in his second Mexico City exhibition at Aztec Land, which opened in October 1924. An article about the exhibition, published in the "El Universal Ilustrado" newspaper, mentions eight Weston photographs, including one described as "el encanto de un desnudo infantile" [the charm of a nude child].(3)

    (1) Edward Weston to "Beloved Grey-Boy" [Neil Weston], September 6, 1923, Edward Weston Archive, Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ.
    (2) See two variant images illustrated in Amy Conger, "Edward Weston: Photographs" (Tucson: Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, 1992), figs. 78–79.
    (3) See "La suprema expression fotografica de la mujer," "El Universal Ilustrado" [Mexico City], October 16, 1924, 39. Citation courtesy of Susan Herzig & Paul Hertzmann, Paul M. Hertzmann, Inc., San Francisco, CA.

    We are grateful to Paul Hertzmann of Paul M. Hertzmann, Inc., San Francisco, for his assistance in cataloguing this work and to Beth Gates Warren for her essay contribution and assistance in cataloguing this work.
  • Condition: Available upon request.

    Framed under double-sided Plexiglas: 26" H x 22" W x 1" D

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