Rudolf Eickemeyer’s photography combined the technological calculation of his engineer father and the aestheticism of the amateur photography clubs that nurtured his art in the 1880s. Purchasing his first camera in 1884, Eickemeyer devoured the ample periodical literature on the practice of camera craft and embraced the artistic ambition of the rising generation. In 1893 he began exhibiting his works in international exhibitions, winning praise for his figure studies.He and Alfred Stieglitz were invited to join the exclusive circle of British art photographers, the Linked Ring. When pictorialism went foggy in the last years of the 19th century, Eickemeyer was held up as the artistic alternative to the Salon style.To emphasize the different his exhibition prints became increasing narrative in implication, resolutely representational, and sometimes moral in point.
The sentimental ethnography of his images of rural life in 1901’s picture book, THE OLD FARM and black sharecropper families in his 1902 book, DOWN SOUTH would seem increasingly old fashioned with every passing
year of the 20th century. Yet Eickemeyer had his fascinations with the pleasure of the simply visual. His book devoted to representing Winter had the sort of clear focus sharpness that anticipated the Ansel Adams aesthetic. Furthermore, his theater and movie star portraits for Campbell contributed as much as Adolph De Meyer’s in creating the emerging grammar of glamour photography. Eickemeyer’s portrait style influence Frank Geisler and Alfred Cheney Johnston particularly.