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May 26, 2012

Extraordinary Portrait Daguerreotypes Made by Mathew Brady's Studio Between 1844 and 1860

Mathew Brady (1822-1896) was one of the earliest photographers in American history, best known for his scenes of the Civil War.

He studied under inventor Samuel F. B. Morse, who pioneered the daguerreotype technique in America. Brady opened his own studio in New York in 1844, and photographed Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams, among other celebrities. When the Civil War started, his use of a mobile studio and darkroom enabled vivid battlefield photographs that brought home the reality of war to the public. Thousands of war scenes were captured, as well as portraits of generals and politicians on both sides of the conflict, though most of these were taken by his assistants, rather than by Brady himself.

After the war, these pictures went out of fashion, and the government did not purchase the master-copies as he had anticipated. Brady’s fortunes declined sharply, and he died in debt.

(Photos by Mathew Brady/Library of Congress)


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