Isadora Duncan’s Feet

Isadora Duncan — Edward Steichen

In this day and age it is almost impossible to go to an antique store and find something really good that the owner of the store does not know about. The only time I pulled a fast one of these was with bookseller Don Stewart at Macleod’s Books. He had a pristine edition of Reverend Joseph H. Pemberton’s Roses — Their History, Development and Cultivation. It was a 1908 first edition. I asked Stewart for his price and he gave me a discount since we were friends and I went home with the book under my arm for a mere $45.

Isadora Duncan, Photo by Edward Steichen

Chance then, in these days does not often bring discoveries. But there is another form of chance that does that I call random chance. Consider
the story of Pablo Casals and how he found Bach’s Suites for Cello.

When Casals was 13 his father bought him a full-sized cell and would regularly go with him to help in searching for more music for his weekly concerts at a café (Casals worked with a trio at a local café in Vendrell, Catolonia, where he played three hours nightly, seven days a week for three pesetas.) One memorable day rummaging in a second-hand store near the harbor, Casals came across the Beethoven sonatas and then, to his astonishment, on a dusty shelf Six Suites for cello solo by Bach. “I did not know of their existence, and no-one had ever mentioned them to me. It was the great revelation of my life…I was nearly 25 before I had the courage to play one of them in public.”

Lionel Salter 1988 Great Recordings of the Century J.S. Bach Suites for Cello Pablo Casals EMI CDH — 61028

Norwegian writer Jostein Gaarder, in 1995 was browsing in an antiquarian bookshop in Buenos Aires, and there he claims, he came upon a copy of a letter to St. Augustine from his mistress, Floria Aemilia. Aemilia was the mother of St. Augustine’s only son. These findings became Gaarder’s beautiful little book That Same Flower published in 1996. In December 2012 I went for a few days to Mexico City to visit an ailing friend, Raúl Guerrero Montemayor. One afternoon I visited the city’s central square called the Zócalo. We visited an old bookstore called Librería Porrúa. It was there that I discovered an old Italian photo/art magazine called La Foto D’Arte edited by one Gianni Rizzoni. Inside there was a spread on photographs of Isadora Duncan taken by Edward Steichen at the Parthenon. Most are familiar with the famous semi-nude photo but I had never seen the others he had taken at a nearby brook on Xantippe Street, not far from the Parthenon. Here they are. I have been unable to find these images on the web and as I said here, if they are not on the web they don’t exist nor did they ever exist. I know better.

I have not read anywhere if Steichen had a foot fetish.

Link to: Isadora Duncan’s Feet

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