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Gertrude Käsebier (American, 1852–1934)

About this artist

Source: Oxford University Press

American photographer. She studied painting at the Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY (1889–93), and in France and Germany (1894–5). She began her professional photographic career c. 1894, as a magazine illustrator, and then c. 1898 she opened a portrait studio on Fifth Avenue in New York. Her simplified portrait style dispensed with scenic backdrops and fancy furniture and was soon widely emulated. Robert Henri, Auguste Rodin, Stanford White and the chorus girl Evelyn Nesbit were among her subjects. Beginning in 1898, her studies of mothers and children as well as her portraits were acclaimed at major photographic exhibitions such as the Philadelphia Photographic Salons. Käsebier was a founder-member of the Photo-Secession in 1902, and ‘Blessed art thou among women’ was among the photographs featured in the first issue of Camera Work in 1903. By 1907 she had begun to drift from the Photo-Secession, exhibiting with them for the last time in 1910. She resigned in 1912. During the second and third decades of the 20th century she was allied with the Pictorial Photographers of America. She closed her portrait studio c. 1920, and a retrospective of her photographs was held at the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences in 1929.

Käsebier generally printed in platinum or gum bichromate emulsions and frequently altered her photographs by retouching a negative or by rephotographing an altered print. She was the leading woman pictorialist photographer of her day and, as a married woman with children who attained success and fame, she became a model for others, including Imogen Cunningham.

Barbara L. Michaels
From Grove Art Online

© 2009 Oxford University Press

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