Matthew Brady: Photographer of Our Nation

Matthew Brady: Photographer of Our Nation

Matthew Brady: Photographer of Our Nation

Matthew Brady: Photographer of Our Nation

Synopsis

As a young man, Mathew Brady witnessed an explosion of inventions: The steamboat, electricity, the telegraph, and a magical new art form using light and chemicals to create a picture-a photograph-were born. Fascinated with this new art form, Brady opened a photography studio, where he captured the likenesses of important figures of his time. When the American Civil War broke out, Brady and his team were among the first photographers to bring images of the brutal realities of war to the American public. Explore nineteenth-century America, visit Civil War battlefields, and meet the determined leaders of the North and the South through Mathew Brady's camera. He once said, "The camera is the eye of history." Without his dedication to photographing the notable people and the greatest conflict of his time, we would not possess his vivid visual record of our nation's past.

Excerpt

Brady is at the camera still, [continuing] the most
successful career in American photography
.
—George A. Townsend, New YorkWorldreporter

In the spring of 1891, a newspaper reporter who happened to be passing by the gallery of Mathew B. Brady in Washington, D.C., decided to pay the famous photographer a visit. The reporter was amazed by what he found there, and he wrote about his experience in the New York World.

“Brady the photographer alive?” he began. “The man who [photographed] Mrs. Alexander Hamilton and Mrs. Madison, Gen. Jackson, and Edgar A. Poe? Thought he was dead many a year…. Brady is at the camera still, [continuing] the most successful career in American photography.”

That career, however, had lost its glory. Mathew Brady could no longer afford a handsome studio, nor did he have the funds needed to record events with his camera. Brady already had recorded one of the most important events in the history of the United States—the Civil War of 1861–1865. In doing so, he had spent almost everything he had, and his efforts to assemble thousands of images of the war had ruined him financially. Despite his losses, Brady believed in the importance of his achievements, as he said, “I regarded myself as under an obligation to my country.”

Brady’s Washington gallery was impressive. On the walls hung hundreds of photographs of public people who lived from the 1830s to the 1890s. There were presidents, queens, and princes; famous generals, politicians, writers, and legendary individuals from America’s Revolutionary period. In Brady’s successful years, the . . .

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