Hedda Sterne [portraited in the photo by Gjon Mili] was born as Hedwig Lindenberg, to Simon Lindenberg, a high school language teacher, and Eugenie Wexler. Sterne was raised with artistic values from a young age, most notably, her tie to Surrealism, which stemmed from a family friend, Victor Brauner. Sterne was homeschooled until age 11. Upon her high school graduation in 1927, she attended art classes in Vienna, then had a short attendance at the University of Bucharest studying philosophy and art history before she dropped out to pursue artistic training independently.
Hedda married a childhood friend Frederick Sterne in 1932. In 1941 she escaped a certain death from Nazi encroachment during WWII when she fled to New York to be with her husband. In 1944 she remarried Saul Steinberg and became a U.S. citizen. She was involved in many shows and exhibits in New York and practiced her art up until she had a stroke that affected her vision and movement when she was 94.