(American, March 27, 1879–March 25, 1973) is recognized as one of the preeminent photographers of the 20th-century, a leading Picturialist, and a founding member of the Photo-Secession group. The artist was born in Luxembourg, but he migrated with his parents to the American Midwest and settled in Milwaukee, WI. He discovered his interest in drawing and painting while attending the Catholic Normal School. He later joined the American Fine Arts Company as an apprentice in 1894. After a four-year apprenticeship, Steichen worked as a designer for a lithography company in Milwaukee for two years.
As an artist, Steichen was greatly influenced by prominent Impressionism painters such as George Fredrick Watts
(English, 1817–1904) and Claude Monet
(French, 1840–1926). His training as a painter played a major role in the success of his career as a photographer. He teamed up with Alfred Stieglitz
(American, 1864–1946) to form the Photo-Secession group, which sought to promote photography as a form of Fine Art. His painterly Impressionist style evolved to sharp Realism after the First World War.
Steichen's portraits of celebrities and artists from the 1920s and 1930s evoked a deep insight in character. He worked as a fashion photographer for leading fashion magazines such as Vanity Fair
from 1923 to 1938. His artistic talent in photography as an art was further acknowledged when he was given the honor to select the best pictures for the United States Camera Annual
journal. He also worked at the Museum of Modern Art in New York as director of the department of photography. Steichen is also remembered for the monumental role he played in organizing the U.S. Navy's photography department during the Second World War.
His major exhibitions include the Family Man
, a show in which 503 photographs were seen by over nine million viewers worldwide. One of his Pictorialist photographs, The Pond - Moonlight
was sold for US$2.9 million at a photograph auction in 2006. The artist’s famous paintings and watercolors were exhibited in 1985 at the Heckscher Museum in Huntington, NY. Steichen, the gifted painter and photographer, died in March 1973 at his home in West Redding, CT.