Edward Weston


"Monna Alfau," 1924

Gelatin silver print on paper hinged to a thin board mount
Image/Sheet: 3.75" H x 2.75" W; Mount: 14" H x 11" W

  • Provenance: The Estate of Dr. Amy Conger
  • Literature: Conger 154/1924
  • Notes: When Edward Weston moved to Mexico in 1921, one of his close colleagues and supporters was Spanish writer Monna Alfau (1899-1986). Born in Spain in 1899, Alfau moved to New York City in 1915 with her family, part of a massive wave of immigration to the United States from Europe and Asia in the early decades of the 20th century. While working at a library in the city she met her first husband, fellow Spanish artist Rafael Sala (1891-1927) and became engaged in 1921, the same year Sala chaired the Hispanic Section's Committee on Exhibits at the "America's Making" exposition. The exposition, held from October 29 through November 12 at the 71st Regiment Armory, was a presentation of the contributions of varies immigrant communities to the development of the United States. Married in 1923, Alfau and Sala then travelled to Mexico on their honeymoon.

    In Mexico, the couple stayed with friend Felipe Teixido (1895-1980) in his house in Mexico City. There they immersed themselves in the burgeoning Mexican art and avant-garde scene, coming out of the end of the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920). Mexican art was undergoing a profound transformation, influenced by global Modernist movements and an uncovering of pre-Columbian art unearthed during the Revolution, with Mexico City attracting artists from across the globe, including many from the United States. One of those Americans was photographer Edward Weston, whom Alfau met at an exhibition at the Aztec Land Gallery exhibition of Weston's work in 1923. Alfau was soon accompanying Weston and their entourage of artists and writers throughout Mexico, visiting ancient ruins and countryside villages. When Sala died in 1927, Alfau married their close friend Teixido, assisting with editing books in their print shop in Mexico City. She passed away in Mexico in 1986. A close friend of Weston's, Alfau was a model for the artist and was photographed many times, of which this striking, contrasting image is from.

    Weston noted in his journals that "in mentioning close friends, I do not overlook the Salas. I have seen more of them than any other "person," but it is collectively that I always think and speak of Monna, Rafael, Felipe, and their unavoidable dogs" ("Edward Weston in Mexico," 15-16).
  • Condition: Overall good condition. Very slight scuffing with surface loss in the extreme upper corners. Some skinning and surface residue on the verso of the image. The sheet is hinged to the backmat in two places by linen tape at the upper corners of the verso.

    Framed under glass: 14.25" H x 11.25" W x 1.25" D

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December 6, 2023 10:00 AM PST
Monrovia, CA, US

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