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collections > permanent collections > photographs > clarence h. white
Clarence H. White
(American, 1871-1925)
Portrait of a Young Woman, 1919
Vintage platinum print, 8 1/4” x 6 1/4”
Gift of Steven and Rochelle Wilson (97.166)

Clarence White was a prominent figure in the American Pictorialist movement of the early twentieth century.  Typical of White’s figure studies, the Museum’s Portrait of a Young Woman is decidedly romantic in character, an impression conveyed not only through soft focus and lighting, but also through incidental details such as the flowers in the woman’s lap.  Paralleling Impressionist figure paintings of the same era, Portrait of a Young Woman embodies the Pictorialists’ goal of bringing the aesthetics of painting into the realm of photography.

Born and raised in Ohio, White began his career as an accountant who pursued photography as a dedicated amateur.  He began to exhibit his work seriously during the 1890s, and while on a trip to New York in 1898, he met Alfred Stieglitz.  Becoming a founding member of Stieglitz’s Photo Secession group, White devoted himself to Pictorialism, practicing its tenets long after Stieglitz had renounced it for Straight Photography.  In 1906, White moved to New York City, where he became a professional photographer and instructor, eventually opening his own school.  Among his pupils were a number of important American photographers including Margaret Bourke-White, Dorothea Lange, and Paul Outerbridge.