Photography and the American Civil War

Jeff L. Rosenheim

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This eye-opening study of Civil War photography traces the introduction of the camera into the battlefield and shows its influence on history and our responses to war

Six hundred thousand lives were lost between 1861 and 1865, making the conflict between North and South the nation’s deadliest war. If the “War Between the States” was the test of the young republic’s commitment to its founding precepts, it was also a watershed in photographic history, as the camera recorded the epic, heartbreaking narrative from beginning to end—providing those on the home front, for the first time, with immediate visual access to the horrors of the battlefield.

Photography and the American Civil War features both familiar and rarely seen images that include haunting battlefield landscapes strewn with bodies, studio portraits of armed Confederate and Union soldiers (sometimes in the same family) preparing to meet their destiny, rare multi-panel panoramas of Gettysburg and Richmond, languorous camp scenes showing exhausted troops in repose, diagnostic medical studies of wounded soldiers who survived the war’s last bloody battles, and portraits of both Abraham Lincoln and his assassin, John Wilkes Booth.

Published on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg (1863), this beautifully produced book features Civil War photographs by George Barnard, Mathew Brady, Alexander Gardner, Timothy O’Sullivan, and many others.

Jeff Rosenheim is curator in charge in the department of photographs at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

EXHIBITION SCHEDULE

The Metropolitan Museum of Art(04/01/13–09/02/13)


The Gibbes Museum of Art
(09/27/13–01/05/14)


New Orleans Museum of Art
(01/31/14–05/04/14)

"Splendid . . . a wonderful enhancement of the show itself."—New York Review of Books

"This is now the definitive source for our visual knowledge of the war and especially of its participants. Rosenheim’s focus on portraiture of soldiers humanizes long-familiar post-battlefield images of bloating corpses. His writing is crisp and full of detail. Best of all, the catalogue doesn’t just recount the photography of the war, it suggests how photography of the Civil War has influenced American art ever since."—Tyler Green, Modern Art Notes
ISBN: 9780300191806
Publication Date: May 7, 2013
Co-publisher: Published by The Metropolitan Museum of Art/Distributed by Yale University Press
288 pages, 11 x 9
297 b/w + color illus.
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