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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Herman De Wetter

Dates:  1880 - 1950, 25 June
Born:  Estonia
Died:  US, NJ, Westfield

Preparing biographies

Approved biography for Herman De Wetter
(Courtesy of Christian Peterson)

Herman de Wetter was born in the Baltic state of Estonia, studied in Germany at the University of Dresden, and came to the United States in 1904. As a civil engineer, he worked on the development, design, and building of the Russian railroad between Moscow and Murmansk. During World War I, he served on the War Trade Board in Washington, D.C. and afterwards as an engineer with the American International Corps.
By 1932, de Wetter had become interested in pictorial photography, making landscapes and portraits of men. For the next ten years, he exhibited at salons and camera-club shows in Brooklyn, New York, Rochester, Philadelphia, and Minneapolis. During the 1940s, he wrote four articles for American Photography, most of them on how to photograph sculpture and small objects.
De Wetter was closely associated with the Brooklyn Museum. He taught at the museumís school of art from 1933 to about 1945, covering pictorialism and photographic technique. In 1934, the museum hired him as a photographer to document its activities and collection. His most significant role at the museum, however, was as curator of photography (an unusual position at the time), to which he was appointed in 1943. By then, Brooklynís collection already numbered about 300 prints (most of them acquired at his suggestion), and he wrote an article about the endeavor for the July 1943 issue ofPopular Photography. In it, de Wetter indicated that a permanent gallery was being devoted to changing shows from the collection and that he was securing photographs in a variety of genres, including pictorialism, press, and advertising. Among the pictorialists who gladly donated their work to the museum were Adolf Fassbender, D. J. Ruzicka, and Max Thorek. Unfortunately, he had to resign as curator in 1949 due to illness.
De Wetter was a long-time member of the Photographic Society of America, received fellowship status (FPSA), and served as its secretary for more than one term. On June 25, 1950, he died at his home in Westfield, New Jersey. 
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.
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