Edward Steichen became interested in photography at age sixteen. Influenced by the atmosphere of moonlight that came to characterize his early Pictorialist photographs, he also painted. Upon turning twenty-one, he left for Europe by way of New York, meeting Alfred Stieglitz, who purchased three of his photographs. On returning, Steichen set up a studio specializing in portraiture at 291 Fifth Avenue, a space that later became part of "291," Stieglitz's celebrated Photo-Secessionist gallery. Steichen became a founding member of the Photo-Secession group in 1903. In 1923 Steichen went to work for the Condé Nast publications Vanity Fair and Vogue, where he photographed celebrities and fashion. From this he received advertising commissions; he once also made photographic designs for silk fabric. Steichen closed his New York studio in 1938 and embarked upon a new, more spontaneous photographic phase. During World War II he joined the Navy to head up a unit of photographers. Steichen was the first curator of photographs at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, where he curated the famous "Family of Man" exhibition in 1953.
Biography courtesy of the Getty Museum.
First introduced to Stieglitz through his work in the publication Camera Notes in the 1890s, Steichen sought out the photographer on a stop over in New York in 1901 on his way to Paris to persue an education as a painter. Stieglitz purchased three of the young artist's photographs at that meeting and the two began a long collaboration. Here, Steichen photographs Stieglitz in painterly fashion, balancing the sharp details of a modern lens with printing techniques resulting in Renaissance sfumato effect.