Born in Luxembourg, Edward Steichen settled in the United States with his family in 1882 and, a talented painter inspired by Impressionism, began to practice photography as a teenager. In the very late 1890s, he founded the Photo Secession group with his friend Alfred Stieglitz, as well as the Camera Work publication with which they became the heralds of the European avant-garde and of American modernism. 

All photographs have been accurately colorized by My Colorful Past.

Self portrait of Edward Steichen and his studio camera 1917 / Edward Steichen / Colored by My Colorful Past

Seduced by his pictorialist images, Condé Nast decided to name Steichen as Vogue and Vanity Fair’s artistic director and, for 15 years, he helped establish modern fashion photography. 

"I don’t know of any art that is, has not and will not be commercial. After all, even Michelangelo liked to be payed for his work."

- Edward Steichen 1905

His photos of gowns for the magazine Art et Décoration in 1911 are regarded as the first modern fashion photographs ever published.

Model wearing a brocade coat with black fox Collar 1925 / Edward Steichen / Colored by My Colorful Past

"The first ever modern fashion photography shoot. That is, photographing the garments in such a way as to convey a sense of their physical quality as well as their formal appearance, as opposed to simply illustrating the object."

- Jesse Alexander 1930

Mary Heberden 1935 / Edward Steichen / Colored by My Colorful Past

From 1923 to 1938, Steichen was regarded as the best-known and highest-paid photographer in the world. His portfolio is vast and has commanded an industry-wide respect for over 100 years.

Louise Brooks 1928 / Edward Steichen / Colored by My Colorful Past

Gary Cooper, 1930 / Edward Steichen / Colored by My Colorful Past

Mary Philbin 1925 / Edward Steichen / Colored by My Colorful Pas

On December 6, 1963, Steichen was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson. Steichen purchased a farm that he called Umpawaug in 1928, just outside West Redding, Connecticut. He lived there until his death in 1973. After his death, Steichen's farm was made into a park, known as Topstone, which is open seasonally to this day.

Below is a wonderful documentary on the life of Steichen by Creative Arts Television.