William M. Ivins, Jr.
Gertrude Käsebier (American, 1852–1934)
Image: 7 5/8 × 5 5/16 in. (19.3 × 13.5 cm)
Sheet: 7 5/8 × 5 5/16 in. (19.3 × 13.5 cm)
Gift of Barbara Ivins, 1984
Not on view
The Metropolitan Museum established a Prints Department in 1916, with thirty-five-year-old William M. Ivins Jr. as its first curator. During the next thirty years he built the Museum’s print collection into the most important in America, amassing not only the great works of acknowledged masters but all manner of printed images that would reveal "the whole gamut of human life and endeavor, from the most ephemeral of courtesies to the loftiest pictorial presentation of man’s spiritual aspirations." His all-encompassing view of the graphic arts included photography.
Ivins knew Stieglitz, admired his work, and visited his galleries for a decade before becoming Curator of Prints. Stieglitz’s long association with the Museum and his central role in the promotion of photography as art made it natural that Ivins would join forces with him to introduce photography into the Met’s Prints Department.
It may well have been through Stieglitz that Ivins met Käsebier, a leading Pictorialist photographer at the turn of the century and the subject of the first issue of Camera Work. Appropriately, she portrayed him here as a scholar and connoisseur wholly absorbed by the printed page.