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Clara Sipprell

Also Known as: Clara Estelle Sipprell, Clarabelle E. Sipprell, Clara E. Sipprell

Born:
Tillsonburg, Ontario, Canada 1885

Died:
Bennington, Vermont 1975

Active in:

  • Buffalo, New York
  • New York, New York
  • Thetford, Vermont
  • Manchester, Vermont

Biography

Throughout her seventy-year career Sipprell created photographs that typify Pictorialism: expressive rather than narrative or documentary , suggesting in her portraits the spiritual quality of the subject rather than a physical likeness.

Even before she began her studies at the Clarence White School in New York City, Sipprell learned about the medium in the Buffalo, New York, portrait photography studio of her older brother Frank Sipprell. At sixteen she ended her formal education in order to work at the studio full time to prepare herself for a career in photography. Sipprell's work reflects not only the early influence of her brother and his colleagues of the Buffalo Camera Club but also her appreciation of Gertrude Kasebier and other members of the New York Pictorialist community. She enjoyed a close relationship with her brother, and, later, his wife, Lucy, who is the subject of this portrait. Sipprell was fond of saying that she learned photography from Frank and aesthetics from Lucy.

Merry A. Foresta American Photographs: The First Century (Washington, D.C.: National Museum of American Art with the Smithsonian Institution Press, 1996)