TIMELINE OF WORLD HISTORY
 

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  History of photography

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History of photography
 
 
 
Mathew Brady
 


Self-portrait, circa 1875



Mathew B. Brady (1822 - January 15, 1896), was one of the most celebrated 19th century American photographers, best known for his portraits of celebrities and the documentation of the American Civil War. He is credited with being the father of photojournalism.
Brady was born in Warren County, New York, to Irish immigrant parents, Andrew and Julia Brady. He moved to New York City at the age of 17. By 1844, he had his own photography studio in New York, and by 1845, Brady began to exhibit his portraits of famous Americans. He opened a studio in Washington, D.C. in 1849, where he met Juliette Handy, whom he married in 1851. Brady's early images were daguerreotypes, and he won many awards for his work; in the 1850s ambrotype photography became popular, which gave way to the albumen print, a paper photograph produced from large glass negatives most commonly used in the American Civil War photography. In 1859, Parisian photographer André-Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri popularized the carte de visite and these small pictures (the size of a visiting card) rapidly became a popular novelty as thousands of these images were created and sold in the United States and Europe.Brady's efforts to document the Civil War on a grand scale by bringing his photographic studio right onto the battlefields earned Brady his place in history. Despite the obvious dangers, financial risk, and discouragement of his friends he is later quoted as saying "I had to go. A spirit in my feet said 'Go,' and I went." His first popular photographs of the conflict were at the First Battle of Bull Run, in which he got so close to the action that he only just avoided being captured.
He employed Alexander Gardner, James Gardner, Timothy H. O'Sullivan, William Pywell, George N. Barnard, Thomas C. Roche and seventeen other men, each of whom were given a traveling darkroom, to go out and photograph scenes from the Civil War. Brady generally stayed in Washington, D.C., organizing his assistants and rarely visited battlefields personally. This may have been due, at least in part, to the fact that Brady's eyesight began to deteriorate in the 1850s.
In October 1862, Brady presented an exhibition of photographs from the Battle of Antietam in his New York gallery entitled, "The Dead of Antietam." Many of the images in this presentation were graphic photographs of corpses, a presentation totally new to America. This was the first time that many Americans saw the realities of war in photographs as distinct from previous "artists' impressions".
Following the conflict, a war-weary public lost interest in seeing photos of the war, and Brady’s popularity and practice declined drastically.
During the war Brady spent over $100,000 to create over 10,000 plates. He expected the U.S. government to buy the photographs when the war ended, but when the government refused to do so he was forced to sell his New York City studio and go into bankruptcy. Congress granted Brady $25,000 in 1875, but he remained deeply in debt. Depressed by his financial situation, loss of eyesight and devastated by the death of his wife in 1887, he became very lonely. Mathew Brady died penniless in the charity ward of Presbyterian Hospital in New York City, at five o'clock, on January 15, 1896, from complications following a streetcar accident.
Brady's funeral was financed by veterans of the 7th New York Infantry. He was buried in Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C.
Levin Corbin Handy, Brady's nephew by marriage, took over his uncle's photography business after his death.
The thousands of photographs Mathew Brady took have become the most important visual documentation of the Civil War, and have helped historians better understand the era.
Brady photographed and made portraits of many senior Union officers in the war, including Ulysses S. Grant, Nathaniel Banks, Don Carlos Buell, Ambrose Burnside, Benjamin Butler, Joshua Chamberlain, George Custer, David Farragut, John Gibbon, Winfield Hancock, Samuel P. Heintzelman, Joseph Hooker, Oliver Howard, David Hunter, John A. Logan, Irvin McDowell, George McClellan, James McPherson, George Meade, David Dixon Porter, William Rosecrans, John Schofield, William Sherman, Daniel Sickles, Henry Warner Slocum, George Stoneman, Edwin V. Sumner, George Thomas, Emory Upton, James Wadsworth, and Lew Wallace.
On the Confederate side, Brady photographed P.G.T. Beauregard, Stonewall Jackson, James Longstreet, Lord Lyons, James Henry Hammond, and Robert E. Lee. (Lee's first session with Brady was in 1845 as a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army, his final after the war in Richmond, Virginia.)
Brady also photographed Abraham Lincoln on many occasions. His Lincoln photographs have been used for the $5 dollar bill and the Lincoln penny.

After the Civil War, many of the plates Brady used became the glass in greenhouses, and the pictures were lost forever.

 
 

Landing Supplies on the James River, c. 1861.
Albumen print. Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.


Photograph of Abraham Lincoln, 1860 in New York City,
the day of Lincoln's Cooper Union speech.


William Sherman, 1865


Col Don Piatt


Mollie Wilson


Mollie Blanche Rosavella


Eduard Remenzi


Eduard Remenzi


Annie Lewis


Officers, 71st Regiment, New York Infantry


Clara Barton


Walt Whitman


Adele Cutts


George Armstrong Custer and Elizabeth Bacon Custer


George William Curtis


Thomas Theodore Crittenden


Edgar Cowan


Kate Chase


Mrs. F. S. Chanfrau


George Q. Cannon


Rufus Bullock


Thomas Samuel Ashe


Civil War , 1865


General Ulysses S. Grant, Cold Harbor, Virginia, 1864


Grand review of the Union army in Washington, D.C., May 1865


Unidentified woman, Civil War period, About 1860-1865.

 
 
 

 
 
 
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