Massachusetts Normal School
In 1897, George Seeley ventured to Boston, where he studied art at the Massachusetts Normal School for about three years.
George Seeley turned down a teaching position at Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute, and in 1902 returned to Stockbridge. From 1904 to 1912, he taught art and supervised drawing classes in the Stockbridge public schools. He also served as a correspondent for the Springfield Republican newspaper, contributing interviews and articles on art, golf, and other topics, beginning in 1905.
Seeley had made snapshots as a child, but became aware of the camera’s creative potential after spending time with the pictorialist F. Holland Day, while in Boston. Back in Stockbridge, he worked in earnest with a large-format camera, and in 1904 burst on the scene with a dozen photographs in the First American Photographic Salon. Seeley’s pictures were widely noticed in the photographic press for their almost excessive softness and refinement, showing the influence of Symbolist art. He made primarily landscapes and figure studies, printing them in platinum and gum-bichromate, sometimes quite large. Indicative of the photographer’s efforts and self- confidence, he priced his prints at fifty dollars each, far more than most other pictorialists.
Seeley’s artistic accomplishment prompted Stieglitz to quickly invite him into the fold, making Seeley the youngest member of the Photo-Secession. Subsequently, his work was seen at the group’s Little Galleries in New York on many occasions, including members’ shows, a two-person exhibition with Adolf de Meyer in 1907, and a solo show in February 1908. Stieglitz also included Seeley’s photographs in Secession exhibitions at Philadelphia’s Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in 1906, New York’s National Arts Club in 1909, and Buffalo’s Albright Art Gallery in 1910.
Seeley also showed his work in many other pictorial exhibitions. Between 1905 and 1915, it was seen in Budapest, Dresden, London, Marseille, Montreal, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and Vienna. He presented solo shows at a variety of venues, such as "Linwood", the Stockbridge estate of a prominent Boston lawyer (where his father was the superintendent and the Seeley family lived) in 1904, the Photographic Society of Philadelphia in 1905, the Utica (New York) Public Library in 1912, the Buffalo studio of photographer Spencer Kellogg, Jr., in 1913, and the Boston Public Library in 1920.
Articles and pictures by Seeley appeared in many periodicals during the same period. He wrote on topics like portraiture and flower photography for Western Camera Notes in 1900 and 1903, Camera in 1904, and the Photographic Times in 1905. Reproductions of his work were run by Photo Era in 1905, Platinum Print in 1913 and 1914, American Photography in 1914, and Country Life in America in 1917. Most significantly, Stieglitz featured eighteen photogravures by Seeley in his exquisite quarterly Camera Work. Appearing in issues in 1906, 1907, and 1910, this was one of the best representations by a photographer in the magazine.
Seeley continued to have his work accepted in shows into the 1930s, long after most other Secessionists had forsaken pictorialism. Among them were the Fourth International Photographic Salon of Japan (Tokyo) in 1930, the Salon International de Photographie (Paris) in 1931, and the Second Philadelphia Salon of Photography in 1933.
By this time, Seeley was apparently not making photographs any more, simply sending out his earlier accomplishments. Instead, he was painting and practicing as an amateur ornithologist, reporting bird migrations to the Biological Survey, Washington, D.C. In 1920, after his father died, the Seeley family moved out of "Linwood", but still lived together. George Seeley died in Stockbridge, on December 21, 1955.
George Seeley continued his lifelong involvement with the Stockbridge Congregational church, where he was chairman of the ushers.
Seeley’s artistic accomplishment prompted Stieglitz to quickly invite him into the fold, making Seeley the youngest member of the Photo-Secession.
Quotes from others about the person
Mr. Seeley is the new man for whom we are always on the lookout, and his advent among pictorialists will be the sensation of the year.