Einstein at Work [Suite of Seven Photographs]
"The originality of Portfolio 'Einstein' consists of its special character. It is made not to get images, but the feeling that you are present during the creativity by the Great Man." -Roman Vishniac
EXTREMELY RARE COMPLETE SUITE OF SEVEN SILVER PRINTS FROM EINSTEIN’S FAMOUS PHOTO SHOOT AT PRINCETON WITH ROMAN VISHNIAC. Each print is signed by Vishniac and dated “Princeton 1942” in his hand below the image and numbered on the back. With an original hand-written letter by Vishniac explaining the edition and photographs.
“One day [Vishniac] decided to visit Albert Einstein at Princeton to offer greetings from mutual friends in Berlin. Uninvited, he hoped Einstein would pose for a portrait, but Einstein had little interest. Vishniac recalled:
It was a singular experience. An idea had suddenly come to him, and the room was filled with the movement of the great man’s thought. I waited several minutes, and then when I saw that he did not intend to say anything more to me and that he was off in a world of his own, I started taking pictures.
Einstein later admitted that a Vishniac photograph taken that day was his favorite portrait” (Encyclopedia of Twentieth-Century Photography).
Vishniac - in a handwritten letter to the original owner dated July 1980 and included in this collection - further explains the edition and the circumstances of the photo shoot:
The portfolio you have is one of the first ten. It is #8. The size of the edition’s limitation is uncertain due to my age and only spare time to make them. The most expensive portfolios - Ansel Adams, Kertesz - are limited in large numbers I can never measure up - 999, 1001 and similar.
The originality of Portfolio “Einstein” consists of its special character. It is made not to get images, but the feeling that you are present during the creativity by the Great Man. All pictures are made with “hidden camera” method.
The value of this portfolio is great and can hardly be estimated today.
Also with letters from the original owner discussing (among other things) payment for the portfolio. According to his letter, the owner paid Vishniac $6000 for the portfolio in 1980.
Princeton/New York: 1942 (negatives); 1980 (silver prints). Elephant folio clamshell box (approx. 17x21 in.) housing seven silver prints. Image size: approx. 10.25 x 13.25 in.; with matte, 16x20 in.) Fine condition. RARE.