Steeplechase Day, Paris - The Grandstand

Artist: Edward J. Steichen (American (born Luxembourg), Bivange 1879–1973 West Redding, Connecticut)

Date: 1907, printed 1911

Medium: Direct carbon print

Dimensions: 27.3 x 35.2 cm (10 3/4 x 13 7/8 in.)

Classification: Photographs

Credit Line: Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1933

Accession Number: 33.43.49

Rights and Reproduction: © 2017 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York


Steichen returned to Paris in 1906, and when he was not scouting out modern art to send to Stieglitz in New York he was working hard to support himself with portrait commissions, most of which came from wealthy Americans traveling abroad. Years after making this photograph of Parisian high society at the races, he recalled, "I borrowed from a friend a German hand camera [and] made my first attempt at serious documentary reportage. I went to the Longchamps Races and found an extravagantly dressed society audience, obviously more interested in displaying and viewing the latest fashions than in following the horse races." The smaller camera enabled Steichen to work quickly enough to capture this candid view before it was obstructed by a racegoer entering the picture frame at the left. Far from detracting from the photograph, the man's presence adds a sense of dynamism perfectly in tune with the fluttering excitement of the crowd.