This paper considers from a personal and historical perspective the meaning of a 1934 photograph by George Gershwin, a self-portrait in the mirror with a twelve-year-old child, who was the author’s mother. The author traces her mother’s connection to Gershwin and explores the complex relationships that brought the composer and her mother together. Starting with a first person account of childhood awareness of and response to the figures in the photograph, the author elucidates the historical context that led to Gershwin’s taking up photography, including the role of his psychoanalyst Gregory Zilboorg. The paper explores the world in which the photograph was created, the photograph’s composition, the author’s mother’s lifelong fascination with photography, and the author’s childhood desire to be seen by Gershwin the way the girl in the picture, her mother, was seen.


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pp. 335-353
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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