From Pictorial Artistry: The Dramatization of the Beautiful in Photography
"Absorbed in her thoughts… her eyes see nothing of the realities about her. The curling smoke of the cigarette rises high… unnoticed… disregarded. The thrust of her chin… the sharp-chiselled [sic] lines of her features… the contracted brow leave no doubt as to the mood of this sitter. Our curiosity is aroused… one desires to penetrate the veil of utter abstraction to read her thoughts.
Only in a dramatic study such as this, where the cooperation of the sitter is so completely objective can one hope to achieve perfect expression of the mood desired. The natural feminine loveliness of the sitter has been completely subordinated to the somber composition.
Triangular. To build up on the entanglement in her mind the arms were carefully posed in order to strengthen the determination of her thought. She seems to pierce the smoke screen before her eyes which was put there to add to the mystery. Her crowded, but strongly supported body will, no doubt, help resist any possible consequence and the gaunt arrangement of the hair supports solidly the weight of her thoughts. Low key and heavy tone masses give strength to the composition.
Technical Problems:
Building up of light concentration on face, hand and cigarette, with secondary emphasis on entangled arms. The dress was too vivid and had to be reduced in the negative and flashed in printing. Shadow detail had to be retained by retouching on the negative. Also, slight emphasis on strands of hair was necessary to provide separation of masses.
Camera: 5x7 Eastman View
Lens: Wollensak Velostigmat, 12 inches
Stop: f.8
Film: Agfa Supersensitive Plenachrome
Exposure: 2 seconds, Mazda
Print: Tuma Gas, direct"
by Adolf Fassbender, 1937
Currently not on view
date made
before 1937
Fassbender, Adolf
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
image: 11 1/8 in x 8 3/4 in; 28.2575 cm x 22.225 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Photographic History
Adolf Fassbender, Pictorial Artistry
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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