Edward Steichen Collectibles



2015-06-26 10:55:56

Edward Jean Steichen (March 27, 1879 – March 25, 1973) was an American photographer and painter. He was regarded as one of the early pioneers of photography as an art form and one of the first Americans to use the Lumiere Autochrome process – an early colour photography technique that would become widespread.

Later in his career, Steichen focused on war and fashion photography, the latter appearing in Vogue and Vanity Fair.


Born in Luxembourg, Steichen’s parents immigrated to the United States when he was three, settling in Michigan.

He undertook a lithography apprenticeship in 1894, and soon became involved in photography. Some of Steichen’s prints were exhibited in 1899, three of which were bought by photographer Alfred Stieglitz.

The two became firm friends, eventually forming the Photo-Secession group in 1902. Steichen’s experiments with colour photography from 1904 onward were highly innovative, an example being ‘The Pond – Moonlight’.

During the First World War, Steichen became commander of the photographic division of the American Expeditionary Forces.

His experiences of the brutality of war led to his partial abandonment of artistic photography, with a new focus on realism.

Steichen would later work in commercial photography, becoming chief photographer for Conde Nast Publications. He also published extensive naval photography during the Second World War.

Notable work

For more details on this topic, see 'The Pond - Moonlight'

‘The Pond – Moonlight’ is one of Steichen’s most famous works. Using light-sensitive gums, he created a colour shot of a wood or copse surrounding a pond with moonlight streaming through the trees, reflecting upon the water.

His 1905 photograph of the Flatiron Building in New York is also a striking example of early colour photography.

In reaction to being ‘dared’ by Lucien Vogel to take artistic photographs of fashion subjects, Steichen produced a shot of women wearing some Paul Poiret gowns. This 1911 photograph is now considered the first fashion shoot.

He later photographed Swedish actress Great Garbo, in one of the most well-known fashion shots of the 1920s.

Notable sales

In 2006, one of Steichen’s most notable works - ‘The Pond – Moonlight’ (1904) – was sold for $2.9m. It is currently the third most expensive photograph sold at auction in the world.

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