Pioneer of Photography: Jeanne J. Bertrand

Jeanne J. Bertrand

You probably have already heard the story of street photographer Vivian Maier and her discovery by former real estate agent John Maloof from Chigago. This began in late 2007, and a good online source is the article “´╗┐The Life and Work of Street Photographer Vivian Maier” by Nora O’Donnell.

Little known, though, is the fact that, as a four-year old child, Vivian Maier and her mother lived with French photographer Jeanne J. Bertrand for some time. On the web site of writer Jim Leonhirth I found a PDF of an article from the Boston Globe, dated August 23, 1902. This fascinating article, entitled “FROM FACTORY TO HIGH PLACE AS ARTIST. Jeanne J. Bertrand, a Girl Of 21, Has Become One of the Eminent Photographers of Connecticut.” describes the story of a 21-year old French girl, who gave up a job at a needle factory in Torrington, Conn., to study the art of photography— in the late 19th century (this happened most likely around 1898) quite an adventure.

Besides the fascinating story, I wonder inhowfar Jeanne J. Bertrand may have—if only unconsciously—had an influence on Vivian Maier respectively her decision to take up photography. Since Jim Leonhirth is preparing a book on the life of Jeanne J. Bertrand, this may shed some further light on Vivian Maier as well.