The Dance Eickemeyer, Rudolf  (American, 1862-1932)

Like the pioneering art photographer Alfred Stieglitz, Eickemeyer was internationally recognized as a talented Pictorialist at the turn of the twentieth century. A lifelong resident of Yonkers, New York, Eickemeyer began taking photographs as a 22-year-old apprentice in his father’s engineering firm, Osterheld & Eickemeyer, in 1884. As an amateur he photographed the machines his father patented, though he soon took lessons with a professional photographer and began exhibiting his work. He took up photography full-time in 1895, and that year he and Stieglitz were simultaneously elected to the renowned society of art photographers the Linked Ring Brotherhood. At a time when cities were expanding and competitive commerce was booming, Eickemeyer responded to American middle class anxieties regarding change by providing serenity and solace in the form of soothing bodies of water and country trails covered in snow. His landscapes speak to a desire to return to nature, demonstrating the deep nostalgia for country life felt by the urban masses. Perhaps best known for his portraits of Evelyn Nesbit, Eickemeyer spent a portion of his career photographing high society women. They are at once gorgeous and oddly painful to look at, for in the eyes of those wealthy women there remains a kind of longing. These portraits provided assurance that these New Women, so-called because they were fiercely feminine and increasingly independent, could be easily accommodated by the emerging culture. From the 1890s up until his death in 1932, he partnered with Kodak to create illustrated instructional pamphlets for amateurs, lectured at camera clubs, and served as a juror at various amateur exhibitions. As a testament to his belief that art is for everyone, he donated most of his work to the Smithsonian, along with an endowment for the maintenance of his gift and to develop the Museum’s photographic collection. (Carolyn Ureña) Eickemeyer Smithsonian National Museum of American History

Reproduced / Exhibited

Hartmann, Sadakichi. Landscape and Figure Composition. New York: The Baker and Taylor Company, 1910. fig. 138