EXTREMELY RARE AND BEAUTIFUL SIGNED PHOTOGRAPH OF EINSTEIN BY FREDERICK PLAUT. SIGNED ON THE IMAGE BY EINSTEIN: “A. Einstein 54”.
A fine photograph of Einstein in 1954, a year before his death, sitting in his Princeton home surrounded by books and holding his pipe, gazing slightly away from the camera.
In his 1964 collection of photographs, The Unguarded Moment, the photographer Frederick Plaut explains the circumstances of his evocative photo of the elderly Einstein:
“There must be a moment in every professional photographer’s life when he is so in awe of his subject that he can scarcely focus his camera. That moment for me was when I met Albert Einstein at his home in Princeton. Certainly the great man was not formidable; he greeted my wife and me graciously, and proceeded to chat with her while I went to work. I remember that she asked him about his music and when he told her that he no longer played his violin she murmured, ‘That’s too bad.’ He smiled, ‘Ah, no. It would have been too bad if I went on.’ In the final moments of our visit, Einstein looked at me very seriously. ‘I hope,’ he said, ‘you can sell these pictures for a good price.’ Astounded, I blurted out: ‘Oh, no, Sir. I have nothing to sell. I just wanted to photograph you.’ His face clouded. ‘Not sell them? If I had known that I never would have let you take them.’ After we left, I realized the significant of a delightful remark attributed to Mrs. Einstein. Someone once asked Mrs. Einstein whether she understood Professor Einstein’s theory of relativity. She answered without hesitation, ‘No, but I understand Professor Einstein’” (Frederick Plaut, The Unguarded Moment, A Photographic Interpretation).
The photographer Frederick Plaut moved to the United States from Europe in 1940. After being “discovered” by the legendary photographer Edward Steichen, Plaut soon was invited to exhibit in numerous exhibitions. “At the Museum of Modern Art his photographs have been shown in many exhibitions including: ‘The Family of Man,’ ‘Music and Musicians,’ ‘The Exact Instant’ and others. Plaut’s work has appeared in Time, Life, Esquire, Look, Saturday Review, Vogue, U.S. Camera, Modern and Popular Photography, andRealities, et al” (The Unguarded Moment).
Provenance: Acquired directly from the family of the original recipient, Arthur Klein, with the original mailing envelope (stamped “Jan 27 ’54”) from The Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, where Einstein was working at the time. Arthur Klein is primarily known for founding with his wife Luce, Spoken Arts, a highly influential company formed in the 1950s that created and distributed recordings of the works of famous writers and artists, usually reading from their own works.
Princeton, NJ: 1954. Silver gelatin print, approximately 4.75 x 6.75 inches. With Plaut's studio stamp on verso. Fine condition with Einstein signature - nicely centered at the base of the photograph - particularly strong. As Plaut mentioned in his account of the photographic session, he never intended to sell this photograph and it is likely very few of these photos were printed and distributed.
EXTREMELY RARE: WE CAN FIND NO OTHER EXAMPLE OF THIS PHOTOGRAPH SIGNED BY EINSTEIN.