Portfolio: Images of War as Landscape | HistoryNet MENU

Portfolio: Images of War as Landscape

By Kim O'Connell
4/27/2017 • Civil War Times Magazine

Whether they produced battlefield images of the dead or daguerreotype portraits of common soldiers, Civil War photographers brought the war home and opened people’s eyes to its realities. A new exhibit—called East of the Mississippi—puts Civil War-era photography into the broader context of the American landscape. Through daguerreotypes, albumen prints, cyanotypes, stereographs, and other methods, early photographers captured the growing country in all its lush abundance—including terrain, machinery, technology, and industry. Although later imagery of the American West would gain wider attention and acclaim (consider the large-scale paintings of Thomas Moran and Albert Bierstadt) this exhibit illustrates how images of the Eastern United States were essential to American place-making, documenting a pivotal century as it unfolded. Given what we know about the Civil War as both catalyst and crucible, it should come as no surprise that the wartime images are among the most powerful in the collection.



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