Revolutionizing the technique of color photography with the application of Autochrome Lumiere process, the Luxembourgian-born American photographer and painter, Edward J. Steichen, was considered the greatest portrait photographer of the 20th century.
Famous for achieving distinction in a remarkably broad range of roles, Steichen was born on March 27, 1879, in Bivange, Luxembourg. In 1881, his family emigrated to the United States and settled in the city of Chicago. In 1889, when Steichen was 10, the family relocated to Milwaukee.
At the age of 15, Steichen started a lithography apprenticeship with the American Fine Art Company of Milwaukee. In 1895, he bought his first camera, a secondhand Kodak and began the journey to the top of the photography industry.
In 1900, Steichen met Alfred Stieglitz, who bought three of his photographic prints and hired him to design a custom logo for a magazine. Steichen and Stieglitz opened “Little Galleries of Photo-Succession” in 1905 and later renamed it ‘291’.
Using fashion as a form of fine art, Steichen conducted the first modern fashion shoot in 1911, which were published in the April edition of ‘Art Et Decoration'. One of his most recognized photos is his 1928 photo of actress Greta Garbo, widely considered the best photograph of Garbo.
In 1944, Steichen was the director of Naval Aviation Photographic Unit and during this time he directed the war documentary ‘The Fighting Lady', which won 1945 Academy Award for best documentary. Steichen worked at the prestigious Museum of Modern Art for 17 years and there he curated ‘The Family of Man', a hugely influential photography exhibition in 1955.
Steichen was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Lyndon Johnson on December 6, 1963.
In 1962, Steichen retired to his farm in West Redding, Connecticut and stayed there until he died on March 25, 1973.Steichen's photograph, ‘The Pond- Moonlight' was auctioned for ¢2.9 million in 2006. It was the most expensive photograph ever sold at that time.