At the turn of the century, Gertrude Käsebier was among the country’s leading Pictorialists, as fine art photographers then called themselves, and the first issue of Alfred Stieglitz’s lavishly produced and influential journal Camera Work in 1903 was devoted to her work. In addition to her more purely artistic compositions, she ran a highly successful portrait studio. Although the specific identities of “Nancy and Bubby” are unknown, this intimate portrait conveys a more universal portrait of motherhood, delicately lit and softly focused, printed on a velvety-surfaced, warm-toned platinum paper, stamped with a chop reminiscent of those found on the Japanese prints that advanced artists of the time so admired, and mounted on layers of colored paper. At a time when the Kodak camera was already leading people to think that anyone could be a photographer, soft focus, subtle lighting, platinum printing, and layered mounts declared one’s artistic ambition.


  • Title: Nancy and Bubby at Five Months
  • Creator: Gertrude Käsebier
  • Date: 1900
  • Physical Dimensions: w14.7 x h20.3 cm (image/sheet)
  • Type: Photograph
  • External Link: MFAH
  • Medium: Platinum print
  • Credit Line: The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, gift of Mike and Mickey Marvins

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