Frederick Sommer, ‘Placenta’, 1940, Phillips

From the Catalogue:
This photograph comes originally from the collection of Dr. Ernest Born, Frederick Sommer’s physician, an amateur photographer, and the supplier of this and other unusual subject matter for Sommer’s camera. In 1940, Dr. Born gave Sommer a “perfectly formed placenta from the easiest birthing he had ever attended” (The Art of Frederick Sommer, pl. 222). The resulting image, tonally precise and filled with detail, takes its place within a series of rigorous still life studies Sommer executed in the late 1930s and early 1940s. The photograph offered here is believed to be the earliest extant print of the image. The J. Paul Getty Museum owns another print.
Courtesy of Phillips

Davis, The Art of Frederick Sommer: Photography, Drawings, Collage, p. 38
Denver Art Museum, Frederick Sommer: The Mistress of This World Has No Name, p. 43
Nazraeli Press, Frederick Sommer: Son of the Box , n.p.

Gift of the artist to Dr. Ernest Born, circa 1940
Estate of Ernest Born
Collection of Jon and Jamie Gipe
Sotheby's, New York, 11 October 2005, lot 139

About Frederick Sommer