Gertrude Käsebier, Pictorialism, and the signficance of the $100 photo
Photographer: Gertrude Käsebier
Dates: 1852 (USA) -1934 (USA)
Active: late 1890s - circa 1920
Ran Studio? Yes, in New York City
Known for: Portraits, Pictorialism
QuickPict: The $100 Photograph
Gertrude Käsebier’s pictorialist work, The Manger, 1899:
Gertrude Käsebier’s photo used as the basis for The Manger, 1899:
The first image above is Gertrude Käsebier’s pictorialist image The Manager, a photo that sold for the then-unheard of sum of $100 in 1899. The second image is a scan from the Library of Congress of what is labelled an “experimental negative” version.
Comparing the two images reveals some of the pictorial darkroom “magic” done by Käsebier to create The Manger. Note the softness of the focus, the brightness of the whites, and the adding of shadows around the edges to create almost a vignetting effect. All the changes evoke a dreamy, romanticized mood.