STEICHEN, Eduard Jean

b. 27 March 1879; d. 25 March 1973

Eduard Steichen (he later changed his name to Edward) was born in Luxembourg, and when he was still a baby the family emigrated to America. He studied painting in Paris, and had soon gained a reputation for his work in photography.

In 1900 Clarence White saw his photographs and lent some encouragement to him. White also wrote to Stieglitz, who bought some of Steichen's photographs. In 1901 Steichen was elected to the Linked Ring, and the following year he became a founder of the Photo-Secession, and designed the cover for Camera Work.

Until the first world war Steichen's work consisted largely of photographs in a post-impressionist style. Later he was to burn all his paintings and concentrate totally on photography.

Initially his photographs show an impressionist influence, with soft focus. He later turned his style to "straight" photography.

In a somewhat whimsical mood Steichen once wrote: "Some day there may be... machinery that needs but to be wound up and sent roaming o'er hill and dale, through fields and meadows, by babbling brooks and shady woods - in short, a machine that will discriminately select its subject and, by means of a skillful arrangement of springs and screws, compose its motif, expose the plate, develop, print, and even mount and frame the result of its excursion, so that there will be nothing for us to do but to send it to the Royal Photographic Society's exhibition and gratefully to receive the 'Royal Medal'."

© Robert Leggat, 1999.