"Here are extraordinary people as no other would portray them-great minds of the modern age revealed as no other photographer could" (Phillip Prodger, Head of Photographs, National Portrait Gallery, London).
(Kahlo, Frida.) Sternberger, Marcel. Portrait of Frida Kahlo
Sternberger, Mexico City, 1952, printed 2017
Gelatin silver print (16 x 20 in.). Estate Edition, a limited edition of 20 copies.
This is a splendid 16 x 20 in. gelatin silver print of a recently rediscovered photograph of Frida Kahlo taken in Mexico City in 1952. Kahlo and her husband Diego Rivera had become intimate friends of photographer Marcel Sternberger and his wife Ilse by that time. The couple held Sternberger’s work in such high regard that Rivera said it was the first time [I’ve] seen the real me and above his bed in Kahlo’s lifelong house La Caza Azul hangs a portrait of Frida by Sternberger.
Marcel Sternberger was one of the leading portrait photographers of the 20th century. His subjects included giants of the day such as Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, and George Bernard Shaw. His portrait of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt is reproduced as the face of the American dime. His photographs appeared in newspapers around the globe, on book covers and stamps, and in official portraits used in everything from world governments to Hollywood publicity.
In 1956, while traveling back to Mexico, his wife, and Kahlo and Rivera, Sternberger died tragically in an automobile accident. This left his life’s work largely hidden from public view until the publication of the recent book The Psychological Portrait: Marcel Sternberger’s Revelations in Photography. It was the golden age of photojournalism, but [Sternberger’s] photographs including of some of the most celebrated political leaders, artists, and intellectuals of the time were meant not only to document, but to tease out and capture his subjects personalities: FDR looking elegant and determined (his image on the dime was produced from one of Sternberger’s shots); a humorless Freud who, Loewentheil writes, could easily have discerned the psychology taking place on both sides of the lens, [still] even he was not immune to its effects ; Frida Kahlo smiling beatifically, a flower crown fixed to her hair and mystery behind her eyes; Albert Einstein looking impish (of his portrait, he wrote, It seems quite amazing to me that you could present this subject so appetizingly ).
Sternberger’s portraits revealed intimate, rarely- observed characteristics of these well-known figures, who were accustomed to managing their public personae; his image of father and daughter Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi sitting together, for example, shows them emanating mutual love and respect (New York Review of Books).