Established in 1950 by Marguerite (Peggy) deSalle, the Little Gallery in Birmingham, Michigan was the first gallery in the region to deal in and exhibit contemporary art. Initially deSalle primarily handled the work of local artists starting out in their careers, and the work of faculty from the Cranbrook Academy of Art. deSalle's ex-husband and close friend, artist Zoltan Sepeshy, assisted her in meeting local artists to show at the gallery. Over time, Little Gallery added the works of artists from Europe, Africa, and other parts of the United States. deSalle also established a framing gallery in the basement, and showed jewelry and pottery in addition to paintings and sculptures.
Peggy deSalle (1903-1985) was born in Hungary where she lived until her family emigrated to New York when she was six years old. As a young woman she frequented the studio of Michigan painter Paul Honore, where she met Albert deSalle and Zoltan Sepeshy. In the 1920s she worked as a photographer for William Suhr, a restorer of paintings, at the Detroit Institute of Arts. While working there, she was offered the opportunity to learn photography at various museums in Europe, particularly Germany.
In the 1940s, prior to opening the Little Gallery, deSalle worked out of her home selling art, antiques, silver, goblets, bowls, and paintings brought to the United States by German political refugees. At one point her inventory was approximately 200 works of art.
Albert deSalle served in the U.S. army and was honorably discharged in 1918. In the 1920s and 1930s, deSalle performed in the theatre and worked in a secretarial and managerial capacity for artist Paul Honore. Not long after Peggy began Little Gallery, Albert joined the gallery's staff and remained there until his death in 1964.
In 1983, Peggy donated funds for the founding of the Peggy and Albert deSalle Gallery of Photography at the Detroit Institute of Art.