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Arnold Genthe's self-portrait
Arnold Genthe (January 8, 1869 – August 9, 1942) was a photographer, best known for his photos of San Franciscomarker's Chinatownmarker, the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and his portraits of noted persons, from politicians and socialites to literary figures and entertainment celebrities.

Biography

Genthe was born in Berlinmarker, Prussiamarker, to Louise Zober and Hermann Genthe, a professor of Latin and Greek at the Graues Klostermarker (Grey Monastery) in Berlin. Arnold followed in his father's footsteps, becoming a classically trained scholar; he received a doctorate in philology in 1894 at the University of Jenamarker, where he knew artist Adolf Menzel, his mother's cousin.
Genthe photographing Jack London and friends in Carmel-by-the-Sea California
After emigrating to San Francisco in 1895 to work as a tutor, he taught himself photography. He was intrigued by the Chinese section of the city and photographed its inhabitants, from children to drug addicts, Due to his subjects' possible fear of his camera or their reluctance to have pictures taken, Genthe sometimes hid his camera. He sometimes removed evidence of Western culture from these pictures, cropping or erasing as needed. About 200 of his Chinatown pictures survive and these comprise the only known photographic depictions of the area before the 1906 earthquake.

After local magazines published some of his photographs in the late 1890s, he opened a portrait studio. He knew some of the city's wealthy matrons, and as his reputation grew, his clientèle included Nance O'Neil, Sarah Bernhardt, Nora May French and Jack London.

In 1906, the San Francisco earthquake and fire destroyed Genthe's studio, but he rebuilt. His photograph of the earthquake's aftermath, Looking Down Sacramento Street, San Francisco, April 18, 1906, is his most famous photograph.

Within a short time, Genthe joined the arts colony in Carmel-by-the-Seamarker, where he was able to pursue his work in color photography. Of his new residence, he wrote, "The cypresses and rocks of Point Lobos, the always varying sunsets and the intriguing shadows of the sand dunes offered a rich field for color experiments."

In 1911 he moved to New York Citymarker, where he remained until his death of a heart attack in 1942. He worked primarily in portraiture and Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and John D. Rockefeller all sat for him. His photos of Greta Garbo were credited with boosting her career. He also photographed modern dancers, including Anna Pavlova, Isadora Duncan, and Ruth St. Denis, and his photos were featured in the 1916 book, The Book of the Dance. He also was an early experimenter with the autochrome color photography process.

Publications

  • Pictures of old Chinatown – text by Will Irwin, illus. Arnold Genthe; New York: Moffat, Yard and co. 1908
  • The book of the dance – by Arnold Genthe; Boston, Mass.: International Publishers, 1920, c. 1916
  • Impressions of Old New Orleansmarker – by Arnold Genthe, fwd by Grace King; New York: George H. Doran co., c. 1926
  • Isadora Duncan: twenty four studies – by Arnold Genthe; New York: M. Kennerley 1929; reprinted by Books for Libraries 1980 ISBN 0-8369-9306-3
  • As I remember – by Arnold Genthe; New York: Reynal & Hitchcock c. 1936
  • Highlights and shadows – ed. by Arnold Genthe; New York: Greenberg, c. 1937
  • Genthe's Photographs of San Francisco's Old Chinatown – by Arnold Genthe, selection and text by John Tchen; New York: Dover Publications 1984 ISBN 0-486-24592-6


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Gallery

Image:Chinatownsf-large1.jpg|The Street of Gamblers (Ross Alley), 1898Image:A Proud Chinese American Father.jpg|A Proud Father, c. 1895-1906Image:Chinese American Children in Traditional Dresses.jpg|Children in traditional dressImage:San Francisco Fire Sacramento Street 1906-04-18.jpg|Sacramento Street, 1906 San Francisco EarthquakeImage:Nora May French.jpg|Nora May French, c. 1907Image:Duquesne 1913.jpg|Fritz Joubert Duquesne, 1913Image:Alice wortley duquesne 1913.jpg|Alice Wortley Duquesne, 1913Image:Millay magn.jpg|Edna St. Vincent Millay, 1914Image:Robertarmstrong.jpg|Robert Armstrong, 1915Image:James Montgomery Flagg.jpg|James Montgomery Flagg, 1915Image:Frank Nelson Doubleday 1916.gif|Frank Nelson Doubleday, 1916Image:LadyDuffGordon-1919.jpg|Lucy, Lady Duff-Gordon, 1919File:Mercedes de Acosta.jpg|Mercedes de Acosta, 1919Image:John Barrymore.jpg|John Barrymore, 1922Image:Greta Garbo 1925 by Genthe.jpg|Greta Garbo, 1925Image:Pearl Buck.jpg|Pearl S. Buck, c. 1932


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