The Dutchess of Carnegie Hall

by Miriam Silverberg

I saw the new exhibit at the Historical Society, “The Duchess of Carnegie Hall:  Photographs by Editta Sherman ” on view until October 15.

The Dutchess of Carnegie Hall

Photo, Marco Scozzaro, 2011

I knew I’d like it because I love photography (not that I’ve ever been behind a camera) but I had no idea how much I’d like it.  This is a Series of 65 celebrity portraits by the “Duchess” (she was given that name by famed photographer, Bill Cunningham, a fellow resident of Carnegie Hall.)

Sherman was one of the rare female portraitists of her era (primarily 1943 to 1965).  She was known to charm her celebrity clients with a vivacity and warmth that are reflected in her images.

Art was a business and a calling for photographer Editta Sherman (1913-2013). After her husband’s death in 1954, she worked tirelessly to maintain the portrait photography business that they had established. Working—and living—in one of the artist studios above Carnegie Hall for more than 60 years, Sherman charmed her celebrity clients with a vivacity and warmth that was reflected in the portraits of her subjects. Her creativity carried over to other avenues, serving as the historically clad muse to photographer Bill Cunningham in his Facades project and performing “The Dying Swan” ballet for Andy Warhol, among other projects.

The exhibition is curated by Marilyn Satin Kushner, curator and head, Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections.

Some of the exhibition’s highlights are photographs of  Yul Brynner, Joe DiMaggio, Lillian Hellman and so many others whom I’m sure you’ll remember.  My final word to you is, “GO”.

You’ll love it.

Miriam Silverberg is a freelance journalist and owner of Miriam Silverberg Associates, a boutique publicity firm in Manhattan. She may be reached at

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