Adolf de Meyer (American (born France), Paris 1868–1946 Los Angeles, California)
ca. 1909, printed 1912
Gelatin silver print
45.7 x 27.6 cm. (18 x 10 7/8 in.)
Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1933
Born in Paris, Baron Adolf de Meyer settled in London in 1896. With his wife, Donna Olga Caraciollo, he joined the elegant set surrounding the Prince of Wales, later Edward VII, Olga’s godfather. They entertained lavishly, including concerts and small fancy-dress balls, which gave de Meyer a chance to devise marvelous costumes for Olga. Likely inspired by the de Meyers’ involvement with the Ballets Russes and time spent at their villa on the Bosporus, this dress features Ottoman elements such as the full skirt and decorative trimmings yet conforms to the Western fitted waistline—a fine example of the 1910s fashion trend of exoticism.
De Meyer’s portraits, still lifes, flower studies, and architectural views were shown at the Photo-Secession Galleries from 1907 to 1912 and published in Camera Work. In the years that followed, he became known for his elegant portraits of society figures and celebrities and for revolutionizing fashion photography in the pages of Vogue, Vanity Fair, and Harper’s Bazaar by infusing the genre with the aesthetic tenets of Pictorialism.