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The Cover
June 6, 2001

Le Tournesol (The Sunflower)

Author Affiliations

The Cover Section Editor: M. Therese Southgate, MD, Senior Contributing Editor.

JAMA. 2001;285(21):2685. doi:10.1001/jama.285.21.2685

His name conjures up photography, not painting. Yet, for the first forty or so years of his life Edward J. Steichen (1879-1973) straddled two worlds, their origins separated by centuries: one was painting, frequently in the medieval medium of tempera, and the other the avant-garde world of photography, its technology so cutting edge that few could ever conceive of it as one of the fine arts. For Steichen photography won out: in 1922 he burned all the paintings that still remained in his studio outside Paris; from then on he would devote his life to photography. The paintings that happen to survive today are the accidents of his generosity: gifts he had made to friends before the sacrificial burning. Such a one is Le Tournesol (The Sunflower) (cover), which he gave to Francis Jourdain sometime between 1920 and 1922, and which has been in the permanent collection at the National Gallery of Art since 1999.

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