Title: The Great Pierpont Morgan

Photographer: Edward Steichen
Author: Frederick Lewis Allen
Publisher: Harper & Brothers Publishers
Designer: Not listed


Image Title: J. Pierpont Morgan 1903 (large detail)
Photo Genre: Portraiture
Book Genre: Biography

Generally speaking, photographs by important imagemakers began appearing on the covers of trade books around 1957. Of course, every rule has it's exceptions, and this biography of J. P. Morgan is one of them. Published in 1949 (though by the condition of the cover, it looks more like 1749), it has the second earliest publication date in the collection so far. No metaphor here; a biography of Morgan may as well have a portrait of Morgan on it's cover, and few, if any, portraits of Morgan were better known than Edward Steichens. Notably absent in this cropping is the financier's left hand, which, while curled around the arm of a chair, is made by lighting to look like it is gripping a knife. Naturally, Morgan hated the image at first sight, and tore it up in anger and disgust. Later on, when the portrait became well-known, Morgan changed his mind and tried a number of times to buy a copy. Steichen, apparently a subscriber to the 'He who laughs last, laughs best' school of thought, ignored his requests for several years. KB To view the entire Steichen Portrait of J. P. Morgan, chair arm included, click on the 'Point of Interest' image at right.

To view a more recent biography of Morgan using the same Steichen portrait for its cover, click here