Eva Watson-Schütze (1867–1935) enrolled at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia at the age of sixteen, and before the age of thirty-five, established her own portrait studios in Philadelphia and later in Chicago. She was a member of the prestigious Philadelphia Salon and of the London-based Brotherhood of the Linked Ring photographic society. Together with Alfred Stieglitz, Watson-Schütze was a founding member of the Photo-Secession movement in 1902 which championed photography as a fine art and promoted a pictorialist style.
The pictorialist emphasis on photography as an artistic and creative - rather than a commercial and mechanical - process was a reaction against the industrialization of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Watson-Schütze’s later association with the American arts and crafts colony, Brydcliffe, in Woodstock, New York was therefore a natural extension of her aesthetic philosophy.
The pictorialist influence can be seen in the photographs on display; carefully constructed framing of the figures, soft textures, warm tones, and foreground interest all play an important role. She attracted an intellectual and influential clientele in Chicago that included the Dewey, Mead, and Tufts families and the Hull House group, many of whom shared the artist’s idealism.
The Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center