Mother and Son

Mother and Son

Margaret Rhodes Peattie: 1891-1946


Before becoming a nationally known short story writer who authored several books; a successful career that included her being a regular contributor to the Saturday Evening Post magazine, American photographer Margaret Rhodes Peattie was an early graduate of the Clarence White School of Photography in New York City. Although her photographic career was brief, lasting perhaps five years or so, she was an active exhibitor in photographic salons from approximately 1916-to the early 1920’s, and is said to have been a founder, along with Clarence White, of the Pictorial Photographers of America (PPA) in 1916.

Photographic Timeline:


1916: February: The University of Chicago magazine notes alumnist “Margaret Rhodes, ’14, is attending the Clarence White School of Artistic Photography in New York and will return to Chicago in June.” (p.169)

The May issue of this magazine provides an update on her photographic career at the White School written tongue-in-cheek by Rhodes herself:

Margaret Rhodes,  (until June) 12 W. 9th St., New York City.—”I have plenty of busy-ness, but no job. This year I have spent each day from nine to six in the study of photography. Next year I hope to have the class stand by an old member and assure me plenty of jobs—at ten dollars per.” We don’t want to discourage Margaret, but we imagine that all of the class who still have ten dollars left next year can be easily included In one small group without straining her wide-angle lens dangerously.” (p. 301)

Along with mentor Clarence White, Rhodes is a founder of the Pictorial Photographers of America:

Some women may have been loath to change aesthetic gears abruptly because of their warm welcome in the organization known as the Pictorial Photographers of America (PPA). Founded in 1916 by Clarence White and Margaret Rhodes Peattie, and numbering among its members Alvin Langdon Coburn and Gertrude Käsebier, this group sought to counter what they perceived as the extremes of modernist art expression promoted by Alfred Stieglitz and Paul Strand.” (1.)

In a memoir published by husband Roderick Peattie in 1941, several more details emerge of  her connection with the Clarence White School:

Margaret was that year studying portrait photography in the Clarence White School in New York. It was a most interesting experience for her. The school was the only one in the country devoted to artistic photography. Max Weber, who has contributed so much to modern art, was one of the instructors. And Margaret was living at the home of John C. and M. Jean MacLane Johansen, both artists of distinction.” (2.)

1917: The former Margaret Rhodes marries geographer Roderick Peattie on June 11. The two had met at the University of Chicago, both graduating in 1914. Later earning his Phd. from Harvard in 1920, Dr. Roderick Peattie (1891-1955) went on to have a long and distinguished career at the University of Ohio in Columbus.

exhibits her photograph: “Seven A. M.” – part of an alumni exhibition of pictorial photography given by the Clarence H. White School of Photography at the school from Dec. 18, 1917-Jan. 12, 1918.

1918: A portrait study: Mother and Child  taken by Peattie was exhibited as entry #69 and shown along with other pictorial photographs by members of the Pictorial Photographers of America at the Detroit Museum of Art from January 4th-28.

1918: first son, Roderick Peattie, one of three children, born March 26 while father Roderick is away stationed in France during World War I.

1920: photograph: Mother and Child, published in the PPA annual.

print details: title to work supplied by this archive. The subject, tentatively dated to 1918, is very possibly a self-portrait of Margaret Rhodes Peattie holding first born Roderick Elia Peattie. (1918-1963) taken in late March or early April. This observation based on another photograph taken by Peattie showing Roderick at perhaps 1 years of age in 1919 titled Mother and Child published in the 1920 PPA annual.

signed in graphite at lower corner of onion skin primary support:  . MARGARET . RHODES . PEATTIE .



1. Naomi Rosenblum: A History of Women Photographers: Abbeville Press Publishers: 2010: p. 154. No further details of Rhodes involvement in being a co-founder of the PPA supplied in volume.
2. Roderick Peattie: The Incurable Romantic: The MacMillan Company: New York: 1941: p. 90

Mother and Son

Image Dimensions23.8 x 19.1 cm tipped along upper margin

Support Dimensions25.7 x 20.4 | 30.4 x 23.6 cm (onion skin-primary: cream-colored secondary mount similar to oak tag)