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S. L. Stein, photographer

Simon L. Stein was born on August 12, 1854 in Marienbad, Germany (at the time part of Bohemia, which is now Czechoslovakia). He lost both parents at an early age, and by the age of 12, he immigrated to the United States and settled in Chicago. As a teenager, he apprenticed for photographer A. J. Lawson, and by the time he relocated to Milwaukee, Mr. Stein was already an accomplished portrait photographer. He began as a retoucher for Hugo von Broich, and in 1879 purchased the Broich & Cramer Studio at the corner of North Third and West State Streets. From the beginning, he established himself as an uncompromising classical portraitist whose works were characterized by their elegant simplicity and evocative uses of lighting.

With his studio an immediate critical and financial success, Mr. Stein turned his attentions to his personal life and married Bertha Gutterman, with whom he would have four children - daughter Martha and sons Julian, Clarence, and Sidney. By the end of the nineteenth century, Mr. Stein was poised to open a lavish studio at the corner of Milwaukee and Wisconsin Streets, the likes of which most Americans had never seen. The 1897 issue of Wilson's Photographic Magazine proclaimed, “It may be fairly said that the new studio recently opened in Milwaukee by our good friend Mr. S. L. Stein surpasses in completeness and beauty any establishment of its kind in this country. We doubt, indeed, whether its equal can be named among the many famous studios of Europe.” Its imposing five-story structure included a massive and fully outfitted photographic studio, which included photographs, portraits, drawings, sculpture, frames, glass and dry plates, negatives, and card mounts. The massive inventory also included non-photographic items such as furniture, electrical appliances, telephones, and office equipment.


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