(Freud, Sigmund.) Sternberger, Marcel. Portrait of Sigmund Freud
London, 1938, printed 2017
Gelatin silver print (20 x 30 in.). Archivally framed. Estate Edition, a limited edition of 10 copies, embossed and numbered.
Freud, just months from dying of oral cancer, is shown seated at his desk in Mansfield Gardens, with his famous devotional statues.
Freud and Sternberger had known each other while still in Europe, but their portrait session did not take place until both men had escaped to the safety of England. Stefan Zweig, a prominent novelist and friend of both, was aware of Freud’s inevitable fate. He asked the dying psychoanalyst to “let Sternberger add your scalp to his already notorious belt of famous contemporaries.”
When Sternberger arrived for the session Freud told him, “frankly I was not too enthusiastic at first about our old friend’s suggestion: but now … it makes me feel good to see old familiar faces.”
Still, Freud’s condition permeated the air and the sitting was not a happy one. Freud was aware that he was being photographed for posterity, and it proved to be his last portrait session. Freud asked, “tell me why you want to bother with this … this wasted face of mine at all? You know that an artist can be truly inspired only by true beauty.”
Freud’s inclination towards self-examination provided some break from the heaviness: He remarked, “I maintain that a portraitist should select his sitters with at least as much care as a society doctor only from an aesthetical instead of financial point of view.”
It is only fitting that these final images of the founder of psychoanalysis were produced with Sternberger’s approach to psychological portraiture. The image is a stark reminder of man’s mortality.
$2500 unframed; framed: $3,000