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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Alice Boughton

Dates:  1866, 14 May (?) - 1943, 21 June
Born:  US, NY, Brooklyn
Died:  US, NY, Long Island, Brookhaven
Active:  US

Preparing biographies

Approved biography for Alice Boughton
(Courtesy of Christian Peterson)

Alice Boughton was active as both a pictorialist and a professional photographer from around 1900 through the 1920s. In the studio she made primarily portraits, while her creative work often featured children and young women. She was born in Brooklyn and initially studied painting in Rome and Paris, but returned to New York to assist in the studio of Gertrude Käsebier, the most noted female portrait photographer of the time.
Alfred Stieglitz supported Boughton’s pictorial photographs in the first decade of the twentieth century. He included her work in the Photo-Secession’s first exhibition, at New York’s National Arts Club in 1902, and granted her membership in this exclusive group. In 1907, she was part of a three-person show at the Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession, along with that of C. Yarnall Abbott and William B. Dyer. Perhaps most important, Stieglitz featured six of Boughton’s images in the April 1906 issue of Camera Work, his lavish quarterly. Most of these pictures, presented in rich photogravure, were of nude women and children, set outdoors and softly rendered. In addition, the periodical included an article by Boughton about the expressive possibilities of the medium.
Boughton sent her work to innumerable salons from the turn of the twentieth century until about 1925. In this country her photographs were repeatedly accepted in New York, Buffalo, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Elsewhere they appeared in Toronto, London, Vienna, and Turin.
Popular periodicals like American Illustrated Magazine reproduced her pictures, but she also had a strong presence illustrating books. Charles Rann Kennedy, for instance, used portraits by her of actors in his published plays five times between 1908 and 1917. Most significant was The Servant in the House, which included individual images of all seven of the play’s characters. In 1928, Boughton made her own selection of important individuals that had sat for her and published it as Photographing the Famous, in both a popular and signed, limited edition. Among the literary and theatrical figures included were Maxim Gorki, Henry James, Ruth St. Denis, Ellen Terry, and William Butler Yeats. In 1930, Boughton closed her New York portrait studio and moved to Brookhaven, Long Island, where she died on June 21, 1943. 
Christian A. Peterson Pictorial Photography at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (Christian A. Peterson: Privately printed, 2012) 
This biography is courtesy and copyright of Christian Peterson and is included here with permission. 
Date last updated: 1 June 2013. 
We welcome institutions and scholars willing to test the sharing of biographies for the benefit of the photo-history community. The biography above is a part of this trial.
If you find any errors please email us details so they can be corrected as soon as possible.

Biography provided by Focal Press 
Trained in Gertrude Käsebier’s studio. Highly regarded portraitist known for her illustrative and romantic images, often celebrating the beauty of young women. Member of PhotoSecession. Exhibited at 291 and published in Camera Work (1909). She wrote that good portrait photographers must have tact, social instinct, and infinite patience. Her book, Photographing the Famous (1928), included portraits of notables such as Maxim Gorky, Henry James, and William Butler Yeats. 
(Author: Robert Hirsch - Independent scholar and writer) 
Michael Peres (Editor-in-Chief), 2007, Focal Encyclopedia of Photography, 4th edition, (Focal Press) [ISBN-10: 0240807405, ISBN-13: 978-0240807409] 
(Used with permission) 

Further research

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Exhibitions on this website

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Visual indexes

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Internet biographies

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Getty Research, Los Angeles, USA has an ULAN (Union List of Artists Names Online) entry for this photographer. This is useful for checking names and they frequently provide a brief biography. Go to website

Printed biographies

The following books are useful starting points to obtain brief biographies but they are not substitutes for the monographs on individual photographers.

• Witkin, Lee D. and Barbara London 1979 The Photograph Collector’s Guide (London: Secker and Warburg) p.89-90 [Long out of print but an essential reference work - the good news is that a new edition is in preparation.] 


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Library of Congress, Washington, USA 
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