Pirie MacDonald

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Pirie MacDonald
Pirie MacDonald 1909.jpg
Portrait of Pirie MacDonald published in 1909
Born(1867-01-27)January 27, 1867
Chicago, Illinois
DiedApril 22, 1942(1942-04-22) (aged 75)
New York City
Known forEarly and mid-20th century portraiture

Ian Pirie MacDonald (January 27, 1867 – April 22, 1942) was an American portrait photographer, New York City civic leader, and peace advocate.[1] He photographed over 70,000 men in the span of his career, including international heads of state, religious leaders, and artists.[2][3]

Photography career[edit]

Born in Chicago, MacDonald moved to Hudson, New York in 1883, where he worked as a photographer's apprentice prior to opening his own studio in Albany.[4] Upon gaining a reputation in portraiture, MacDonald made the decision to only photograph men, a decision that even applied to family photos, and from that point on dubbed himself "Pirie MacDonald – Photographer of Men".[2][4] His prolific body of work encompasses many well-known men of the early to mid-20th century including Spencer Trask, Woodrow Wilson, William Ralph Inge, Seán O'Casey and Antoine Lumiére,[4] all of which were taken within New York City save for Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk and Christian X of Denmark.[5] When asked about his most memorable portrait sittings, he listed Theodore Roosevelt as his most difficult subject.[6]

Personal life[edit]

MacDonald married Emilie Van Dusen in 1890.[4] Heavily involved in the Boy Scouts of America organization, he founded the Norwalk Boy Scouts[7] and maintained a camp for the scouts on his White Oak Shade estate in Norwalk, Connecticut.[8]

MacDonald had a cerebral hemorrhage at White Oak Shade on April 18, 1942, and died at a New York hospital four days later. In accordance with his wishes, all photographic negatives of his works were destroyed.[4]



Further reading[edit]

  • "Good Portraits Must be Planned - Interview with Pirie MacDonald". Popular Science. Bonnier Corporation. 139 (6): 206–209. December 1941. ISSN 0161-7370.
  • "Speaking of Pictures...". Life. 14 (2): 12–13. January 11, 1943. ISSN 0024-3019.


  1. ^ "Advocate of Peace Talks..." The Norwalk Hour. November 25, 1930. Retrieved May 6, 2010.
  2. ^ a b "Ace Photographer Gives Big Secret". Spartanburg Herald-Journal. January 28, 1942. Retrieved May 6, 2010.
  3. ^ "Ian Pirie MacDonald - obituary". Christian Science Monitor. April 23, 1942. Retrieved May 6, 2010.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Pirie MacDonald collection". New-York Historical Society. Retrieved May 6, 2010.
  5. ^ "Pirie Mdonald, at 75, works in his studio". The New York Times. January 28, 1942. pp. 27 Section: Sports. Retrieved September 17, 2018. Only twice in the time he has been established in this city has he taken pictures outside its environs. Once he went to Czechoslovakia to photograph president Jan Masaryk, then to Denmark to do King Christian X.
  6. ^ "Roosevelt Most Difficult Man To Photograph". The Pittsburgh Press. September 10, 1927. Retrieved May 6, 2010.
  7. ^ "Chapter Notes". The Norwalk Hour. December 21, 2000. Retrieved May 6, 2010.
  8. ^ "Pirie MacDonald Cabin Swept by 1,500 Fire". The Norwalk Hour. October 18, 1930. Retrieved May 6, 2010.
  9. ^ a b c d e "International Photography Hall of Fame profile". International Photography Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on July 18, 2011. Retrieved May 6, 2010.
  10. ^ "Past Presidents". Professional Photographers' Society of New York. Archived from the original on November 18, 2008. Retrieved May 6, 2010.

External links[edit]