Rare Nat Fein Signed 16 x 20-Inch Photo - "The Babe Bows Out" - Pulitzer Prize Winning Photograph

Sold For: $9,400

Auction Year: 2010 spring

Lot: 1283

Item Year: 1948

Category: Advertising and Photographic Displays

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Exceedingly rare large-format 16 x 20-inch photo of "The Babe Bows Out" taken by noted photographer Nat Fein (1914-2000). The haunting image, capturing Babe Ruth during his final appearance at Yankee Stadium on June 13, 1948, has been signed by Fein in gold marker ("10") in the lower right corner. This is the rarest example of this famous photo ever produced by Fein and it should not be confused with the more common 11 x 14-inch or 8 x 10-inch photos signed by Fein. The 16 x 20-inch photos were produced by Fein only on a very limited basis and are seldom seen today. They are also markedly different from the smaller versions in that they include, in the upper right corner, a flaw in the negative that Fein always cropped out of the smaller prints. This is the full image captured by Fein on that historic day! According to David Nieves, Curator/Estate Administrator of the Nat Fein Estate, Fein produced only a very small number of these 16 x 20 prints because the process was very involved and time consuming, hence their extreme rarity today. The offered print, like all of the other signed editions of "The Babe Bows Out" was personally produced by Fein from the original negative, but it must have been done decades ago, since our consignor has had this piece since the early 1970s, when he purchased it at a street fair from a dealer who had no idea of its significance or true value.

"The Babe Bows Out" earned photographer Nat Fein the Pulitzer Prize for photography and is perhaps the single most famous sports photograph of all time. Today, it remains the most enduring image of Ruth ever taken, and is featured in both the Baseball Hall of Fame and at the Smithsonian Institute. This photo was taken on June 13, 1948, when the Yankees commemorated the 25th anniversary of Yankee Stadium by inviting all the members of the 1923 team to join them in the celebration. In conjunction with that ceremony, the team also chose to honor Babe Ruth by retiring his number. Ruth was gravely ill with the cancer at the time (he died just two months later); however, he was determined not to let the fans down. In this photograph he is captured for the last time in a New York Yankees uniform. Out of all the photographers present on that memorable day, one man captured the essence of the event in a single image: Nat Fein of the New York Herald Tribune . Fein knelt behind Ruth, aimed his Speed Graphic camera, and captured a priceless moment in American sports history. "Babe Ruth Bows Out" ran on the front page the next day and later became the first sports photograph to earn a Pulitzer Prize. Fein was asked why he broke a fundamental rule of photography and took the shot without showing Ruth's face. "The retiring of No. 3 was the story. You didn't need to see the Babe's face to recognize him. You'd recognize his great hulk and spindly legs anyplace. No one else had that particular angle, so it was a little something different." Original prints of this famous photo personally created and signed by Fein are extremely desirable and ideal for display. Near Mint condition with flawless contrast. Matted and framed to total dimensions of 28 x 24 inches. Accompanied by an LOA from David Nieves, Curator/Estate Administrator of The Nat Fein Estate. Reserve $2,500. Estimate (open) SOLD FOR $9,400

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