The subject of this important Stieglitz photograph- “Mending Nets”, is of a young Dutch woman concentrating on her task of mending a fishing net on the dunes at Katwyk in North Holland. In 1899, writing in the publication Photographic Life 1, (July: pp. 11-12) Stieglitz says this is “My Favorite Picture”:
“It is a most difficult and unsatisfactory task to single out one of my pictures as a favorite. But you insist, and so it must be done. Possibly, if I have any preference, it may be for Mending Nets, as it appeals to me more and more, and time is the true test of merit. Then, too, the picture brings before my mind’s eye the endless poetry of a most picturesque and fascinating lot of people, the Dutch fischer folk. What artistic temperament does not delight in studying them and portraying them either in art or literature! Mending Nets was the result of much study. It expresses the life of a young Dutch woman: every stitch in the mending of the fishing net, the very rudiment of her existence, brings forth a torrent of poetic thoughts in those who watch her sit there on the vast and seemingly endless dunes, toiling with that seriousness and peacefulness which is so characteristic of these sturdy people. All her hopes are concentrated in this occupation-it is her life.
The picture was taken in 1894 at Katwyk. Taken on an 18-by-24 centimeter plate, with a Zeiss lens. The exhibition prints used are enlarged carbons, as the subject needs size to fully express it.” 1.
1. “My Favorite Picture”: reprinted in: Stieglitz on Photography: His Selected Essays and Notes: compiled and annotated by Richard Whelan: bibliography of Stieglitz’s writings compiled, with a preface, by Sarah Greenough: Aperture: 2000: p. 61