Georgia O’Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz met in 1916, when she paid a visit to 291 to see an exhibition of Marsden Hartley works. Nearly twenty-four years his junior and just gaining recognition as a painter, O’Keeffe made an immediate impact on Stieglitz—both artistically and emotionally. The two began an avid, often daily correspondence that eventually turned into a passionate affair before they finally married in 1924. After Stieglitz’s death in 1946, O’Keeffe was appointed executor of his estate, and she divided the Stieglitz Collection among several institutions, including the Art Institute of Chicago.
O’Keeffe’s presence revitalized Stieglitz’s photography, which he had neglected in favor of the journal Camera Work and his gallery. She first posed for him in the spring of 1917, and as their relationship deepened, he continued to photograph her “with a kind of heat and excitement.” Over the next twenty years, he made over three hundred portraits of her—nude and clothed, performing mundane tasks and posing dramatically in front of her paintings, showing her entire body as well as isolated views of her neck, hands, breasts, and feet. O’Keeffe wrote that Stieglitz’s “idea of a portrait was not just one picture”; instead, it was a composite of pictures addressing an idea and personality too large to fit in a single photograph.