From the Catalogue:
The Swedish-born photographer Otto Wegener, better known by his professional moniker “Otto,” became one of the most successful portrait photographers of his day in Paris. Contemporary accounts describe his establishment on the Place de la Madeleine as lavish and crowded with fashionable people waiting to have their portraits made. Otto’s studio included gallery space which he sometimes made available for exhibitions; in 1902 Edward Steichen showed his work there. Otto’s commercial portraiture makes up the overwhelming amount of his extant work. Far rarer are examples of his artistic photography, such as the bravura gum-bichromate print offered here. Despite the fact that Otto showed his work in exhibitions of Pictorial photography in Paris, Dresden, and Leipzig in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, his non-commercial work appears on the market very infrequently.
Otto had studied Pictorial print processes with Robert Demachy and Constant Puyo. For a brief period around 1906, he hired Edward Steichen to instruct him in different techniques. At the time, Steichen was struggling financially to support his wife and young daughter while pursuing his own work. Bemused that he was instructing one of the most successful photographers in Paris, Steichen wrote to Alfred Stieglitz, “Well—I’ve taken a job as a day laborer. I am working for Otto!!!” (Steichen: The Master Prints, p. 68). Regardless, Steichen appreciated the handsome wage Otto paid—$20 a day—and clearly Otto absorbed the younger photographer’s lessons: the gilt borders around the print offered here perhaps show Steichen’s influence, as does Otto’s evocative and assured handling of the gum-bichromate technique.
—Courtesy of Phillips
Niépce to Atget: The First Century of Photography, From the Collection of André Jammes, Art Institute of Chicago, 16 November 1977- 15 January 1978
Art Institute of Chicago, Niépce to Atget: The First Century of Photography, From the Collection of André Jammes, pl. 128
Collection of Marie-Thérèse and André Jammes, Paris
Sotheby's, London, La Photographie. Collection Marie-Thérèse et André Jammes, 27 October 1999, lot 257