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Edward Steichen (American, 1879-1973)


Also known as:  Edward Jean Steichen; Steichen, Edouard J.; Steichen, Eduard J.; Steichen, Eduard Jean; Sutaiken, Edowado; Sutaiken, Edowadpo

Birth Place: Luxembourg general region (Europe)


Who is painter and photographer Edward Steichen?

Edward Steichen was an American painter, photographer, and documentarian. Though he is perhaps best known for his photographs that appeared in Camera Work magazine at the turn of the century, Steichen’s talents were many and varied. In addition to Camera Work, Steichen was a photographer for Vogue, Vanity Fair, and several ad agencies. He also directed the documentary The Fighting Lady (1944) which won an Academy Award for Best Documentary the following year.

Steichen worked as director of the Museum of Modern Art’s department of photography from 1947 to 1961. During this time he curated some of their most important exhibits, including The Family of Man which is still one of the most popular exhibits to ever be featured at the prestigious museum. Steichen is one of the most important photography proponents in the history of art, and his work at MoMA did much to promote the (at the time) fledgling art form.

What kind of art did Edward Steichen make?

Edward Steichen was famous for his photographs, then later as a prolific painter, plant cultivator, and documentarian. His fashion photographs in Art et Decoration are thought to be some of the first-ever to be published. His work was often moody and atmospheric, no matter the medium. While Steichen may be most famous as a curator of art, his contributions to film, photography, and painting should not be overlooked.

Steichen was a huge factor in popularizing the nascent art form of photography during the mid 20th century and continued to be so up until his death. His fashion photography often felt candid, less posed than the photographers of even a decade before. He used a soft-focus, editing and retouching in the Pictorialist style that differed greatly from other sharp images made by his peers.

How did painter and photographer Edward Steichen get started?

Edward Steichen was born in Luxembourg to a middle-class family. They quickly immigrated to the US in 1880, when Steichen was only a year old. Notably, Edward’s sister married the famed poet Carl Sandburg. Steichen’s family moved to Milwaukee when he was nine, and he spent his subsequent years in school there, developing his artistic talents around the age of fifteen. He quit high school to start an apprenticeship at The American Fine Art Company of Milwaukee. It would last four years, and be one of the foundational moments of his artistic life. He bought his first camera at the age of sixteen and rented a small room in Milwaukee to form the Milwaukee Art Students League. He partnered with Alfred Stieglitz sometime around the turn of the century, moved to New York, and began shooting photos for periodicals at the same time.

How much are Edward Steichen paintings and photographs worth?

Edward Steichen's photography is extremely valuable with prints selling often between a thousand dollars to well over two million for his most sought-after prints. The most ever paid for an Edward Steichen photograph at auction was $2,900,000 for the print Pond Moonlight (1904) which sold on February 14th, 2006. Steichen is highly regarded in the photography community and is largely seen as the father of modern photography -- a major influence on later 20th-century photographers like Richard Avedon. As a painter, Steichen is also highly regarded. His paintings can be worth a few thousand dollars to more than three hundred thousand for major works. Though he was primarily known as a photographer, Steichen was also an extremely prolific painter, and his paintings have great value to the art community. There is a significant appetite for collectors of his work. The most ever paid for an Edward Steichen painting is $362, 500 for the piece Moonlit Landscapewhich sold on May 20th, 2010. Steichen's work is varied, multi-disciplinary, and has a classical feel that makes the audience for his work extremely broad. That's good news for any collector who encounters his work.

Where to buy Edward Steichen photographs for sale?

See the works for sale below. Why buy from Heritage? Art buyers feel confident because our experts know the market and put careful valuations on the artwork for sale. We make the bidding process easier to help you expand your art collection.

How to value Edward Steichen photographs?

The best way to value art is to compare past auction prices for similar works. View past sale prices below. When you’re ready to sell, contact Heritage Auctions to request an auction estimate of the likely selling price at auction. If you need a formal written appraisal for estate planning or insurance, please contact our Appraisal Services Department.

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