Happy Birthday! Edward Weston, March 24, 1886

Margrethe Mather and Edward Weston by Imogen Cummingham
Margrethe Mather and Edward Weston by Imogen Cummingham

Happy Birthday Edward Weston!
Edward Weston meets Margrethe Mather 1913

As I started researching Edward Weston's life around the 1913's, I realized it was when he met and started working with Margrethe Mather. I went straight to our bookshelf and read "Margrethe Mather and Edward Weston, A Passionate Collaboration" by Beth Gates Warren. This book was a gift from our friends Isaac and Jude Artenstein of Coronado CA. Artenstein a lover of Weston, has inspired us in so many ways. We saw the exhibition at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art in 2003. It was an excellent show and I am so happy we took the time to go and see it. I highly recommend this book. I learned a lot about Margrethe and the time she and Edward spent together.

Margrethe was a photographer, mentor, lover and inspiration to Edward. I think back about what his life must have been like when they met. He was 27 and married with 2 children. During the time he was working closely with Margrethe he had 2 more children with his wife Flora. His modest studio was built on the same one-acre lot as his equally modest house. So his photography studio was right next door to his house. Kim's father Cole is quoted saying "I don’t recall as a child my father ever sitting down with the family for dinner. My mother and father were at odds with each other". Edward professed his love for Margrethe and they partnered in a photography business that lasted for several years. When Edward looked back recalling the greatest influences of his life, he declared that Margrethe Mather was "the first important person in my life."

I have been looking at Edward's portraits for years now and often wondered who some of these people were and how they fit into his life. Now I understand that many of these people came to him via Margrethe. I love this early period of photography with its soft focus and romantic imagery.

1913: Edward begins submitting work to national and international photography salons. He gains a reputation for high key portraits and modern dance studies. By the end of the decade, he garners more than 30 awards.

Autumn: Edward meets Margrethe Mather (1886 – 1952), when she stopped at his Tropico studio. Mather becomes Edward’s business assistant, partner, model and lover over the next decade.

Edward Weston - Epilogue Margrethe Mather
Edward Weston - Epilogue Margrethe Mather

1914 May: Edward and Margrethe Mather help found the camera club, Camera Pictorialists of Los Angeles.

1915 Edward begins his personal journals, the “Daybooks.”

Edward travels to the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco. He wins a Bronze Medal for his photograph: Child Study in Gray. Edward is also exposed to the European avant-garde works of Cezanne, Rodin, Picasso and Matisse.

1916 December 6: Edward’s third son, Lawrence Neil Weston (1916 – 1998), is born. He is called Neil.

Edward travels to Cleveland, Ohio to demonstrate his printing techniques to the National Convention of the Professional Photographer’s Association.

1917 Edward is elected to the London Salon of Photography. It is acknowledged as the highest honor in pictorialism. Of its 37 members, at the time, only 6 are from the United States and Edward is the only member on the west coast.

1918 February: Edward meets photographer, Johan Hagemeyer (1884 – 1962), in his Tropico studio. The dutchman Hagemeyer was interested in studying photography and had come to Weston's studio in Tropico on the advice of friends. They become very close friends for the next two decades.

Johan Hagemeyer and Edward Weston by Margrethe Mather 1921
Johan Hagemeyer and Edward Weston by Margrethe Mather 1921

1919 January 30: Edward’s fourth son, Cole Weston (1919 – 2003), is born.

Please enjoy the selection of photographs from Margrethe Mather and Edward Weston, A Passionate Collaboration, Beth Gates Warren 2001 © by the Santa Barbara Museum of Art ISBN 0-393-04157-3

©Edward Weston, Center for Creative Photography Tucson AZ. ©Margrethe Mather, ©Imogen Cunningham Trust