In 1917, amid the tumult of US entry into World War I, the two great projects that had consumed Alfred Stieglitz for more than a decade—Camera Work and the gallery 291—came to an end. The next year, the fifty-four-year-old photographer and the artist Georgia O’Keeffe, who was twenty-three years younger, became lovers, catalyzing a burst of creativity unprecedented in Stieglitz’s long career: from 1918 to 1920, Stieglitz made more than 140 photographs of O’Keeffe that, unlike his earlier analytic work, resonated with emotion and personal meaning.
Stieglitz made his first portraits of O’Keeffe at 291 in 1917, shortly before the gallery closed. Like his other 291 portraits of artists, Stieglitz posed O’Keeffe in front of her art; in one her head is framed, halolike, by a circular form in her drawing (Key Set number 457). He continued to pose O’Keeffe in front of her drawings in 1918, but as their intimacy grew, he began to conjoin her art and her body, suggesting they were one (Key Set number 490).