Portrait of Eric Schaal. (Photo by Eric Schaal/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

Portrait of Eric Schaal. (Photo by Eric Schaal/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

Salvador Dalf worked side by side with Eric Schaal (1905-1994). Once, instead of painting on canvas, Dalf staged a phantasmagoric scene and Schaal transformed it into a real-life photograph. The brainy Schaal was at ease among many of the profound thinkers and important artists of the mid-20th century. With figures ranging from Albert Einstein to Sinclair Lewis to Woody Guthrie, he was able to blend in so entirely that his subjects seemed to forget he was there.

Huge hands of Russian piano virtuoso Sergei Rachmaninoff. (Photo by Eric Shcaal/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

Huge hands of Russian piano virtuoso Sergei Rachmaninoff. (Photo by Eric Schaal/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

Sisters playing music together. (Photo by Eric Schaal/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

Sisters playing music together. (Photo by Eric Schaal/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

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