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Arnold Genthe

Arnold Genthe PhotographsCreated by: PICRYLDated: 1925
Arnold Genthe seated next to a woman friend in his studio in San Francisco
Arnold Genthe was born in Berlin. His father was a professor of Latin and Greek. Genthe followed in his father's footsteps, becoming a classically trained scholar; he received a doctorate in philology in 1894 from the University of Jena.

After emigrating to San Francisco in 1895 to work as a tutor for the son of Baron and Baroness J. Henrich von Schroeder, he taught himself photography. He was intrigued by the Chinatown part of the city and photographed, often secretly, its inhabitants. About 200 of his Chinatown pictures survive, and these comprise the only known photographic depictions of the area before the 1906 earthquake. The San Francisco earthquake and fire destroyed Genthe's studio, but he rebuilt.

He was a friend of George Sterling, Jack London, Harry Leon Wilson, Ambrose Bierce, and Mary Austin. He was appointed in 1907 to the Board of Directors of the Art Gallery in Monterey’s luxury Hotel Del Monte, where he ensured that the work of important regional art photographers, such as Laura Adams Armer and Anne Brigman, was displayed with his own prints.

In 1911 he moved to New York City, 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 dancers, including Anna Pavlova, Isadora Duncan, Audrey Munson, and Ruth St. Denis, and his photos were featured in the 1916 book, The Book of the Dance.
3,335 Media in collectionpage 1 of 34
Bob Lim and brother, Chinatown, San Francisco

Bob Lim and brother, Chinatown, San Francisco

Title from a similar image in: Genthe's photographs of San Francisco's old Chinatown / photographs by Arnold Genthe ; selection and text by John Kuo Wei Tchen. New York : Dover Publications, 1984, pl. 10. Purch... more

Screen painting that belonged to Arnold Genthe

Screen painting that belonged to Arnold Genthe

Purchase; Genthe Estate; 1942 or 1943.

The sword dancer, Chinatown, San Francisco

The sword dancer, Chinatown, San Francisco

Title from a similar image in: Old Chinatown : a book of pictures / by Arnold Genthe ; with text by Will Irwin. New York : M. Kennerley, 1913, p. 191. Alternate titles from a similar image in: Genthe's photogra... more

The street of the gamblers (by night), Chinatown, San Francisco

The street of the gamblers (by night), Chinatown, San Francisco

Title from a similar image in: Old Chinatown : a book of pictures / by Arnold Genthe ; with text by Will Irwin. New York : M. Kennerley, 1913, p. 35. Purchase; Genthe Estate; 1942 or 1943.

Chinese American men and child in front of building with hanging lanterns, Chinatown, San Francisco

Chinese American men and child in front of building with hanging lante...

Photograph shows Chinese American men in traditional dress standing on a street in Chinatown, San Francisco. One man holds a child. Title devised by Library staff. Forms part of: Genthe photograph collection (L... more

Dupont Street entrance to Chinatown, San Francisco

Dupont Street entrance to Chinatown, San Francisco

Title from a similar image in: Genthe's photographs of San Francisco's old Chinatown / photographs by Arnold Genthe ; selection and text by John Kuo Wei Tchen. New York : Dover Publications, 1984, pl. 5. Purcha... more

The drug store sign, Chinatown, San Francisco

The drug store sign, Chinatown, San Francisco

Purchase; Genthe Estate; 1942 or 1943.

Five girls in holiday finery, Chinatown, San Francisco

Five girls in holiday finery, Chinatown, San Francisco

Purchase; Genthe Estate; 1942 or 1943. vd image reversed 2/96

Man and a boy walking down a sidewalk with other people, Chinatown, San Francisco

Man and a boy walking down a sidewalk with other people, Chinatown, Sa...

Title devised. Purchase; Genthe Estate; 1942 or 1943.

In holiday finery, Chinatown, San Francisco

In holiday finery, Chinatown, San Francisco

Title from a similar image in: Old Chinatown : a book of pictures / by Arnold Genthe ; with text by Will Irwin. New York : M. Kennerley, 1913, p. 73. Alternate title from a similar image in: Pictures of old Chi... more