American (born in Luxembourg), 1879–1973
Edna Best, Actress, c. 1930
silver print on paper
25.2 x 20.2 cm
Collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery; Acquired with funds from an anonymous donor
Edward Steichen was born in Luxembourg and his family immigrated to the United States when he was three years old. He first began his artistic career as a painter, but moved to the photographic medium soon after. During the 1920s and 1930s Steichen produced portraits of celebrities for Vanity Fair on a monthly basis. In line with the Art Deco influence, by the late 1920s Steichen was employing artificial illumination to create dramatic lighting effects. Also during this time, through his fashion spreads for Vogue, he championed a new perception of women as not only beautiful but independent and successful in their own right. This image of British actress Edna Best (1900–1974), who moved to Hollywood in the early 1930s, embodies this new concept of femininity.