Tag Archives: daguerreotypes

Mathew Brady: Photographer Extraordinaire

matthew-brady-1861LOCMathew B. Brady (1822 – 1896) was one of the most famous American photographers. He was known for his portraits of celebrities and his documentation of the American Civil War. He is credited with being the father of photojournalism. Brady employed a team of assistants who traveled the country to capture the war. They produced more than 10,000 images of the conflict, and brought the gruesome realities of warfare home to the American public. When people discourage him, citing battlefield dangers and financial risks, but Brady persisted. He later said, “I had to go. A spirit in my feet said ‘Go,’ and I went.” In 1862, Brady shocked America by displaying his photographs of battlefield corpses from Antietam, posting a sign on the door of his New York gallery that read, “The Dead of Antietam.” This exhibition marked the first time most people witnessed the carnage of war. The New York Times said that Brady had brought “home to us the terrible reality and earnestness of war.” After the Civil War, Brady went bankrupt. He sold his entire collection to Congress for $25,000. He died penniless. (Pic credit: Library of Congress)

Throughout the week, we’ll feature Brady’s photography. Rita Bay

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Jackson & Daguerreotypes

      Numerous photographs of Andrew Jackson survive in the form of daguerreotypes.  Can’t say that he was the FIRST US president who was photographed because John Quincy Adams, the 6th US president, has that honor. 

      The daguerreotype was a photographic process available for public use in the late1830s.  Developed by Louis Daguerre together with Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, the image in a daguerreotype is formed by the amalgam, or alloy, of mercury and silver.  The image is formed on the surface of the silver plate that looks like a mirror.    

      Daguerreotype photography spread rapidly across the United States. In the early 1840s, the invention was introduced in a period of months to practitioners in the United States by Samuel Morse, the inventor of the telegraph code. A flourishing market in portraiture sprang up, predominantly the work of itinerant practitioners who traveled from town to town. For the first time in history, people could obtain an exact likeness of themselves or their loved ones for a modest cost, making portrait photographs extremely popular for the masses. 

Tomorrow, Jackson’s warning to Americans in his Farewell address


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