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Ruth St. Denis

Baron Adolph de Meyer, 1 Sep 1868 - 6 Jan 1946
Ruth St. Denis, 20 Jan 1879 - 21 Jul 1968
Platinum print
Image/Sheet: 24.1 x 19cm (9 1/2 x 7 1/2")
Mat: 55.9 x 40.6cm (22 x 16")
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Restrictions & Rights
©Estate of Ernest DeMeyer, Represented by Sotherby's New York
Object number
Exhibition Label
Endowed with high-minded and spiritual inclinations as well as beauty, Ruth St. Denis moved twentieth-century dance from the realm of variety shows to a serious art form. Stimulated by an interest in Eastern philosophy and mysticism and, reportedly, a 1904 cigarette poster with an Egyptian motif, St. Denis created a new form of theatrical dance, incorporating exotic costumes, contemporary music, innovative choreography, and inspirational themes. From 1906 onward, St. Denis and her company toured the United States and Europe, performing a series of dances based on Eastern motifs. In 1915 she and her husband, Ted Shawn, opened the Denishawn School in Los Angeles, where they trained such young dancers as Doris Humphrey and Martha Graham. For this photograph, St. Denis collaborated with Vanity Fair photographer Adolph de Meyer to recreate the illusion of modern dance in two dimensions.
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
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National Portrait Gallery Collection