A print of this work is held by the Bibliotheque Nationale de France, Paris. Atget no. 4956.
The image is titled and numbered '4956' in the artist's hand in pencil on the reverse. It is also stamped by the artist. In the catalogue to Atget's retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 2000, John Szarkowski discusses the significance of the photographer's depiction of staircases. Discussing a 1911 photograph of this subject Szarkowski evokes its air of mystery: The picture draws our attention to what it concealed: who or what is hidden on the stair behind the wall. Our own vantage point is not quite innocent; like a thief, we are hugging the right-hand wall, ready to peer around the corner to see if the coast is clear. The picture would not be helpful to the pattern maker, but would surely be suggestive to a painter, especially one with a taste for the mystery of things hidden from view, and for the slippery, fugitive dimensions that separate the mineral and animal worlds. Man Ray, who in the 1920s was a neighbour and admirer of Atget in Paris, selected a photograph by Atget of a staircase for reproduction in the important surrealist journal La Révolution Surréaliste.
Although Atget did not take photographs with any intent to mystify, his work received some of its first critical exposure in a surrealist context.
It was an assistant of Man Ray's, the American photographer Berenice Abbott, who did more than anyone else to consolidate Atget's international reputation, tirelessly promoting his work even at the expense of her own practice as a photographer.
Abbott and Walker Evans would become two of Atget's greatest disciples, transposing the streets of Paris with those in America, captivated by the stillness and limitless possibility of architecture and light.