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Gertrude Kasebier

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About Gertrude Kasebier:

Known for: portraits, especially in natural settings

Dates: May 18, 1852 - October 12, 1934.

Occupation: painter, photographer

Also known as: Gertrude Stanton, Gertrude Käsebier

Background, Family:

  • Mother: Muncy Boone Stanton
  • Father: John W. Stanton
  • Siblings: at least one, a younger brother

Education:

  • Bethlehem Female Seminary, 1866-1870 (now Moravian College)
  • Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, 1889-1893

Marriage, Children:

  • husband: Eduard Käsebier (married 1874, separated 1880, died 1910; successful businessman)
  • children:
    • Frederick William, born 1875
    • Gertrude Elizabeth, born 1878
    • Hermine Mathilde, born 1880

More About Gertrude Kasebier:

Gertrude Kasebier was born as Gertrude Stanton in Fort Des Moines in 1852. Her father went to Colorado for the gold rush of 1859, and the next year he brought the rest of the family to join him. He was elected mayor of Golden in 1860, but died suddenly in 1864. The family then moved to New York.

Gertrude married Eduard Käsebier in 1874, and she settled into marriage and motherhood for some years, though the marriage was unsuccessful. They essentially lived as if separated from 1880, though never divorced, but often argued in the next decades over her work and where they would live.

Gertrude Kasebier, with her husband's financial assistance, began to study art at the age of 37. She moved to Brooklyn with her children to study painting at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, but then turned to photography. She also studied the theories about children's education of Friedrich Fröbel, applying this to her later photographs of mothers and children.

After Pratt, Gertrude Kasebier then went to France and Germany to continue her studies. In 1895 she returned to the states and began work as a magazine illustrator, then an assistant at another artist's portrait studio. She opened her own portrait studio in 1898 in New York on Fifth Avenue.

She photographed many individuals, and also took photos of mothers and children. She also took many photographs of Native Americans in the "Buffalo Bill's Wild West" show.

Very quickly, her work brought her public notice. She helped found the 1902 Photo-Secession group. Alfred Stieglitz recognized Gertrude Kasebier's work, publishing some of her photographs in Camera Work in 1903.

She spent a short time in Europe, then returned to a disagreement with Steiglitz about the role of commercial photography. She resigned from the Photo-Secession group in 1912, instead helping to found the Pictorial Photographers of America, an act that Stieglitz saw as an attack on him.

Gertrude Kasebier encouraged many women in photography, founding the Women's Professional Photographers Association in America, and supporting their work. Her daughter Hermine (Turner) became part of her business in 1924.

In 1929, she closed her studio, and that same year, the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences held a retrospective of her work. She died in 1934 in New York at the home of her daughter Hermine.

Books About Gertrude Kasebier:

  • A Photographic History by Gertrude Kasebier. 2007.
  • William Innes Homer. A Pictorial Heritage: The Photographs of Gertrude Kasebier. 1979.
  • Barbara Michaels. Gertrude Kasebier The Photographer and Her Photographs. 1991.

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