Friday, April 5, 2013

Jill Krementz covers Photography and The Civil War

Jeff Rosenheim, curator of the exhibition.

"I came to the Met some 25 years ago and saw that the museum had acquired 500 photos from this era.

"It was a time in our history where the camera went everywhere. When you got your uniform you went to the photographer and posed for your likeness, sometimes with prop weapons. As men went into battle, the camera went too. One in five soldiers survived.

"That 'life is short' made for great photographic reflectivity."
Photography and the American Civil War
April 2-September 2, 2013
Special Exhibition Gallery, first floor
The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Civil War was a brutal test of America's commitment to its founding precepts and also a watershed in photographic history.  This exhibition, curated by the Met's Jeff Rosenheim, devotes eleven galleries to the subject.

Entrance to the exhibition on the
first floor.
On display are haunting battlefield landscapes, poignant studies of Confederate and Union soldiers, heartbreaking medical studies of wounded men by  Dr. Reed Brockway Bontecou, and, of course, numerous  portraits of Abraham Lincoln.

Equally compelling is the ephemera: the albums, the game board, the campaign broadsides, the lockets, and the mourning corsage worn by many after the assassination of a beloved President.

When most people think about photographs of The Civil War the one name that springs to mind is that of Mathew Brady.  Well, much to my surprise, and I'm guessing yours as well, Mr. Brady took hardly any pictures of this historic era. The name of his studio was imprinted on everything — much the way the byline, Associated Press, gets imprinted on the work of those who work for the Agency. The real credit goes to the wartime lens men — George N. Bernard, Alexander Gardner, Timothy O'Sullivan and many others. 

I urge you to see what is one of the best exhibits ever mounted by the Met. Be sure to purchase the splendid catalogue designed by Laura Lindgren with text by the show's curator, Mr. Rosenheim.
The entrance to the exhibition spanning eleven galleries. The canvas echoes the material used for tents housing the soldiers, and photographers, during the war.
"Abraham Lincoln," May 20, 1860
William Marsh; Salted paper print from glass negative

This photograph of Abraham Lincoln is the first one made after he received the nomination for president, on May 18, 1860, at the Republican National Convention in Chicago.

Although many in the East had read Lincoln's impassioned speeches, few had actually seen the attorney and former congressman from Illinois. The candidate appears much younger than his fifty-one years—innocent as yet of the great toll the presidency would take on him.

If this portrait does not resonate with most viewers' standard mental image of the president, it is perhaps because Lincoln is not wearing his signature stovepipe hat or his characteristic beard. The media consultants of the day—his party's election committee—suggested that he grow a beard to hide his gaunt face, but Lincoln was loath to do so. After the election, however, he stopped shaving and by the time of his inauguration in March 1861 he had become the first American president to sport a beard.
Mathew B. Brady

Jefferson Davis, 1858–60

Jefferson Davis, an aristocratic Mississippi planter, Mexican-American War hero, United States Senator, and United States Secretary of War (1853–57) would become president of the Confederate States of America in November 1861.

He appears here in an elegant if typically posed carte-de-visite portrait by Mathew B. Brady. Made just before the outbreak of war, the photograph would be duplicated by other photographers in the North and the South for various purposes, including the production of a scarce piece of patriotic Confederate jewelry seen nearby.

The most famous photographer of the Civil War era, Brady opened his first portrait studio in New York City in 1844. He distinguished himself from his competitors by making, collecting from others, and displaying in his gallery portraits of the country's most noted citizens. Edward Anthony served as Brady's publisher and image wholesaler and sold hundreds of thousands of cartes-de-visite format portraits for Brady and other photographers during and after the war. They are still found in simple tooled-leather family albums such as the one shown here.
Unknown Artist

"Abraham Lincoln Campaign Pin", 1860

Red, white, and blue silk with tintype set inside stamped brass button

This 1860 presidential election was the nation's first political campaign that saw buttons such as this one featuring original photographic likenesses. As they do today, political parties during the Civil War era attempted to put their candidate's faces on every possible surface during the long campaign season.

A tintype—like the daguerreotype (a silver image on copper) and the ambrotype (a silver image on glass) that preceded it—is a direct-positive process, and thus Lincoln appears in this tintype laterally reversed, as if in a mirror. The actual picture support is not tin but a thin sheet of iron that was japanned black. Tintypes (also known as ferrotypes) were popular with soldiers and their families during the Civil War due to their light weight, low cost, and the ease with which the pictures could be sent in the mail and incorporated into pins, lockets, and medals.
The Met's Harold Holzer, who has written, or edited, 46 books about Lincoln.

"Over the years, I've seen many museum exhibitions on Civil War photography, but this is the most beautifully installed and intelligently curated.

"Anyone who wants to know how photographers of that time not only covered the war, but influenced both public opinion and American memory, will find the visual answers here.

"And my man Lincoln gets his due as well!"
Sojourner Truth, "I Sell the Shadow to Support the Substance," 1864

Born Isabella Baumfree to a family of slaves in Ulster County, New York, Sojourner Truth sits for one of the war's most iconic portraits in an anonymous photographer's studio, likely in Detroit.

The sixty-seven-year-old abolitionist, who never learned to read or write, pauses from her knitting and looks pensively at the camera. She was not only an antislavery activist and colleague of Frederick Douglass but also a memoirist and committed feminist, who shows herself engaged in the dignity of women's work.

More than most sitters, Sojourner Truth is both the actor in the picture's drama and its author, and she used the card mount to promote and raise money for her many causes: I Sell the Shadow to Support the Substance. SOJOURNER TRUTH.
The imprint on the verso features the sitter's statement in bright red ink as well as a Michigan 1864 copyright in her name. By owning control of her image, her "shadow," Sojourner Truth could sell it. In so doing she became one of the era's most progressive advocates for slaves and freedmen after Emancipation, for women's suffrage, and for the medium of photography. At a human-rights convention, Sojourner Truth commented that she "used to be sold for other people's benefit, but now she sold herself for her own."
"Gordon, A Runaway Mississippi Slave", or "The Scourged Back," March–April 1863

Attributed to McPherson & Oliver; New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 1863–65

Gordon, a runaway slave seen with severe whipping scars in this haunting carte-de-visite portrait, is one of the many African Americans whose lives Sojourner Truth endeavored to better.

Perhaps the most famous of all known Civil War–era portraits of slaves, the photograph dates from March or April 1863 and was made in a camp of Union soldiers along the Mississippi River, where the subject took refuge after escaping his bondage on a nearby Mississippi plantation.
On Saturday, July 4, 1863, this portrait and two others of Gordon appeared as wood engravings in a special Independence Day feature in Harper's Weekly. McPherson & Oliver's portrait and Gordon's narrative in the newspaper were extremely popular, and photography studios throughout the North (including Mathew B. Brady's) duplicated and sold prints of The Scourged Back.

Within months, the carte de visite had secured its place as an early example of the wide dissemination of ideologically abolitionist photographs.
A vitrine display case.
Unknown Artist
Union Infantry Soldiers in Frock Coats, Standing, with Rifles, 1861–65
Quarter-plate ruby glass ambrotype with applied color

This ambrotype of a pair of well-accoutered Union infantry soldiers in crisp frock coats is an excellent example of a Civil War portrait, typical in that neither the subjects' nor the artist's names is known.

Note that the soldiers' standard-issue belt buckles with the slab serif US are laterally reversed. This mirroring effect is found in all ambrotype and tintype portraits—an infelicity that must have bothered many soldiers, who were trained and retrained to follow correct military procedure as it related to uniforms, gear, and weapon placement. Some even posed for their portraits with their cross-shoulder cartridge boxes on the incorrect side of their bodies so that they would appear in the photograph on the correct (right hip side) not, as seen here, on the soldiers' left.
Unknown Makers
Civil War Portrait Lockets, 1860s

Most of the photographs in these lockets are tintypes set in brass and gold-plated cases. During and after the war, women pinned portraits of family members to their lapels and wore lockets hung on metal chains or velvet ribbons. It is uncertain if the desire to sit for a portrait was driven by hope that the little photograph might help the subject and his family survive the war or by fear that the sitter and his relatives would not live through the next battle. Regardless, the belief in the power of the photographic image during this period, in both field pictures and portraits, is astounding.
More portrait lockets.
After photographs by Mathew B. Brady and others
Political Necklace with Portraits of Confederate States of America President Jefferson Davis, Vice President Alexander H. Stephens, and Secretary of War John C. Breckinridge, 1861–65
Albumen silver prints set in thirteen carved vegetable ivory (tagua nut) disks with modern stringing
Brian D. Caplan Collection.

Mathew B. Brady's prewar carte-de-visite portrait of Jefferson Davis (nearby) was duplicated by photographers for various purposes in the North and the South, including the production of this rare, perhaps unique, piece of patriotic Confederate jewelry. Likely commissioned in 1865 by a high-ranking member of the Confederacy as a gift to a woman of means, the necklace was even more striking when it was first made: the carved beads would have been pure ivory white.
A portrait locket with a lock of hair.
Abraham Lincoln, February 27, 1860

Three months before his nomination as the Republican Party candidate for president, Abraham Lincoln went East, stopping in New York City on February 27, 1860, to give a speech at the Cooper Institute (now the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art).

Many considered Lincoln's powerful antislavery lecture as his most important to date. The closing words spurred his audience and the country at large: "Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith, let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it."

Earlier in the day he sat for this portrait at Mathew B. Brady's gallery on Broadway and Tenth Street, just a few blocks from the lecture hall. Although his visit to the studio could not have lasted long, the result of this first of many portrait sessions with Brady was a simple but powerful image that would alter the visual landscape during the upcoming election. In a single exposure on a silver-coated sheet of glass, Brady captured the odd physiognomy of the man who would change the course of America.
Barbara Hoffman, Culture Editor of the New York Post and John Zeaman who writes for the Star-Ledger. Edward Maloney, art writer, taking some photographs.

"It seems amazing that whatever period the Met focuses on, things are brought to life in vivid detail. This photography exhibit is the reality check for the movie Lincoln, and a reminder that WAR, no matter the cause, is muddy, bloody, destructive, sad, and horrible."
Presidential Campaign Medal with Portraits of Abraham Lincoln and Hannibal Hamlin, 1860

The small two-sided brass medallion at left is the most common of several extant Lincoln campaign photo buttons produced for the 1860 election; the medallion at right is from the 1864 re-election campaign.

On the reverse of each is a tintype portrait of Lincoln's vice presidential running mates. For the 1860 button, Brady's original carte-de-visite portrait of Lincoln (also on view in the gallery) is both laterally reversed and slightly blurred.

The flaws in the duplication process proved to be a boon to the Kentucky "Rail Splitter." As his strong features softened, Lincoln became more classically handsome and less rough-hewn—and, perhaps, even more electable. Curiously, the same softening effect seems not to have afforded the other candidates the bounce it gave Lincoln. Even a cursory examination of the surviving campaign medals (seen nearby) of Stephen Douglas and Herschel V. Johnson, John C. Breckinridge and Joseph Lane, and John Bell and Edward Everett reveals more about the crudeness of the photographic materials than the quality of the human countenance.
"The Evacuation of Fort Sumter" (April 1861)

This exceptional early war carte-de-visite album inscribed "The Evacuation of Fort Sumter" was given by an unknown donor to a "Mrs. Crawford Washington" in 1862.

It includes sixteen cartes de visite of Fort Sumter and the other batteries lining Charleston Harbor. On the inside front cover is a period inscription: These photographs were taken immediately after the evacuation of Fort Sumter by the U.S. Troops under Anderson, April 1861.

Two of the photographs—including a study of Confederate soldiers sitting in the rubble of the fort—are the work of Osborn's Gallery, of Charleston. J. M. Osborn was a partner of the firm of Osborn and Durbec's Southern Stereoscopic and Photographic Depot. All the other photographs in the album, including the view of Beauregard's "floating battery," are attributed to Alma Pelot and Jesse H. Bolles and are on Edward Anthony card mounts.
Mathew B. Brady's Studio Camera and Tripod, 1860s
Wooden camera, lens, tripod

To the right is a Posing Stand to stable the head of the sitter.
Mathew B. Brady used this portrait camera in his Washington, D.C., gallery in the early 1860s.

The camera and its brass barrel lens and original tripod appear on the photographer's bankruptcy filing in April 1873.

For a century, the camera was in the famous Meserve Collection of Civil War photographs and ephemera and was lent by the Meserve family to Time Magazine in 1957 to be used to photograph President Dwight David Eisenhower in a pose similar to one by Brady of President Lincoln.

Although it cannot be known for sure, it is enticing to consider that this camera may have been the one used by Brady and his corps of photographers to create their historic portraits of Lincoln.
Close up of Posing Stand, 1850s–1860s

This apparatus to hold a sitter's head rigid during a long camera exposure was a standard fixture in every portrait gallery at the time of the Civil War. As a type of head clamp it prevented blurring, but in the hands of less experienced picture makers it often added an element of stiffness to the portrait.
The role of the camera during the Civil War is what this exhibition explores.

The camera played a role that no other medium at the time could, which was to show the facts of the war, but to show also the experience of the common soldier, to show the quality of the life in camp, to show how destructive the war was and how liberating it was for African Americans.

The study of photography during the Civil War is the study of the American experience, the legacy of which still looms large in the imagination of the American public.

(Excerpt from audio guide)
"Union Soldier Holding Rifle, with Photographer's Posing Stand," 1861-65

The purpose of the odd pronged apparatus seen in this portrait of a typical Union recruit was to keep the sitter's head rigid during the exposure of the wet-plate negative--between a fraction of a second and several seconds, depending on the time of year and the atmospheric conditions. The device was not meant to be seen by the camera and is generally invisible in the era's portraits.
An 1863 Broadside printed in Boston

Heavy Artillery, Now Is the Time to Enlist, 1863
Broadside printed by Thomas J. Griffiths, printer, Utica, New York

Rally! Your Country Calls! $225 Bounty!! 1862
Copying Maps, Photographic Headquarters, Petersburg, Virginia, March 1865

Alexander Gardner, George N. Barnard, and numerous other Civil War photographers duplicated maps and important military documents using a copy camera set up like the one shown in this view.

Leaning against the log cabin are a pair of contact printing frames tilted toward the sun. For large and small campaigns and even minor exploratory forages, officers in the North and the South needed accurate regional maps, which were in short supply at war's start. Since hand-tracing or engraving existing maps proved too time consuming, army topographic engineers hired photographers to copy and print maps and other important documents in the field.
Artillery, Musician, 1866
Fatigue, Marching Order, 1866

Attributed to Oliver H. Willard, American, died 1875

Albumen silver prints from glass negatives, with applied color
A Period Pocket Album

Letters and packages traveled regularly between the battlefield and the folks back home. Portable portraits were among the most precious things a soldier or his family could send or receive.

The soldier could usually choose between a unique cased image like this one, or a paper image—a carte de visite.
Thomas Mickleberry Merritt [left] and Unknown Fellow Officer, Company G., Second Georgia Cavalry Regiment, 1862–63

This uncommon, horizontal double-portrait shows a typical pair of Confederate cavalrymen from Georgia wearing gray shell jackets, cavalry sabers and slouch hats.

Right: A.J. Riddle, Confederate Captain and Manservant, 1864

In these and other early wartime portraits we see an entire nation of faces searching for identity and looking at a camera to find its way there.

This act of democratic self-representation is where the pathos and poignancy of Civil War photography come through most clearly.
Union Zouave Soldier in Dark Blue Jacket and Light Blue Pants, 1861-65

Photograph by Benjamin F. Reimer
Union Zouave Soldier in Dark Blue and Red Jacket, and Red Pants, 1861-65

Photographer unknown

The United States Zouave Cadets

Volunteer Zouave companies (and related Chasseur regiments) sprang up across America after Fort Sumter.

In the late 1850s American militia groups adapted the colorful uniforms worn by these distinctive military units from the French army, which in turn had borrowed the style from North African troops in Algeria. Complete with fez headgear, short jackets, sashes, and pantaloons in bright
blues and reds often decorated with fancifully patterned swirls, the style varied from company to
company but was always visually arresting.
Jeff Davis "Taking" Washington, 1861-65
(Printed Mailing Envelope)

During the year before the war, stationery shops and printing houses satisfied the nation's partisan spirit by offering their customers mailing envelopes and loose sheets imprinted with humorous motifs.

The collecting and use of what came to be known as "patriotic covers" quickly developed into a passion.

Here, in further proof that photography had fully saturated American society by war's start, an artist working for the Philadelphia publisher A. C. Kline suggests with a wry sense of humor that the only possible way Confederate States President Jefferson Davis might "take" the nation's capital is as a photographer with a large-view camera.
Cartes des visite of enlisted soldiers referred to as "the Colored Infantry."
Stereo views were popular at the time--3D was very much the language of the photographer.

Card-mounted stereoscopic views composed of paired albumen silver prints were common in the Civil War era. Small photographs, seen in a special viewer known as a stereopticon, appear cinematic and give the illusion of three-dimensionality.

Just three dollars per dozen wholesale, they were inexpensive and immensely popular collectibles during the war and for the next fifty years. Stereographs provided a major source of revenue for photographers and for the nation's premier publishers such as Mathew Brady's close friend and business associate Edward Anthony. Enterprising picture dealers released stereos on colorful card mounts imprinted with titles such as Anthony's "Photographic History, The War for the Union."
If you were looking through this stereoptically, you would see one picture of a dead soldier.
Jason Kauffman (a journalist who covers the art world) and Maria Escalante (who is my assistant) look through opposite sides of a stereoscopic viewer which is in a gallery called The Reading Room. That's because there are lots of catalogues on display, which you can read sitting down.
In the reading room, the catalogue is opened to my favorite picture by George Bernard.

In "Quaker Gun, Centreville, Virginia," the subject is a tree trunk expertly carved and painted by the Confederates to look like a massive cast-iron cannon. The photograph offers wry commentary on the nature of war and the art of deception.
Side Drum, ca. 1864
Wood, calfskin, rope
Attributed to Ernest Vogt

The stenciled eagle appeared on thousands of instruments made for the Union army. Painted on a blue field, it holds a banner in its beak that reads: REG: U.S. INFANTRY.

Field musicians—buglers and fifers in the mounted services, drummers in the infantry—played the call to wake up and sleep, to mess (food), to chores, and, most important, to battle. On the march they signaled change of direction, change of step cadence, and other duties. Even though they were on the front line, musicians were considered non-combatants. Boys as young as ten were enlisted as field musicians, especially drummers.
Laborers at Quartermaster's Wharf, Alexandria, Virginia, 1863; Attributed to Andrew Joseph Russell

In this photograph, African-American workers pose on a Union supply dock, with the masts of ships piercing the sky behind them.

Since 1792, a federal statute had prohibited African-Americans from serving in the military, and this didn't change when the Civil War broke out. But free and emancipated African-Americans served in other capacities, as manservants, cooks, blacksmiths, and dockworkers.

As the war ground on and Confederate General Robert E. Lee gained momentum, President Lincoln finally reversed the policy. In July 1862, the Union army opened its ranks to African-Americans. 186,000 African-Americans served in segregated divisions of the Union army for the remainder of the war. Approximately one in five died from wounds or disease during their time in service.

Military segregation continued in America through both world wars. It wasn't abolished until 1948.
"Rebel Caisson Destroyed by Federal Shells," May 3, 1863; Andrew Joseph Russell.

This photograph is as close to a spot-news battlefield view as was technically possible during the Civil War.

Made just hours after a fierce fight above Fredericksburg, Virginia, the haunting picture shows the destruction by heavy artillery shell of a Confederate caisson (a two-wheeled vehicle for artillery ammunition) and its team of eight horses.
Rick Woodward covering for The Wall Street Journal.
Game Board with Portraits of President Abraham Lincoln and Union Generals, 1862; Unknown Maker

Civil War soldiers traveled with their units from home to battlefield and, with some luck, back home bearing on their backs all that they needed to survive. Many carried precious family photographs and letters as well as a few rudimentary personal effects such as a sewing kit, pipe, diary, or deck of playing cards. While this game board theoretically could have been used by a Union soldier at a camp on the frontlines, its construction and pristine condition suggest it was created, sold, and reserved for patriotic use at home. The playing surface is composed of one large albumen silver print copy of a grid of photographs of thirty-one Union generals surrounding a portrait of President Abraham Lincoln.
Alexander Gardner's "Photographic Sketchbook."

Alexander Gardner was a gifted portraitist and the manager of Mathew B. Brady's photography gallery in Washington, D.C., when it opened in 1858.

At the outbreak of the war, Gardner served in the Union army with the honorary rank of captain.

Initially, he and a small corps of photographers copied maps and charts for the Secret Service that were distributed as photographic prints to both field and division commanders.

For two years, Gardner also worked as a field photographer recording military subjects for General George McClellan and the Army of the Potomac. In fall 1862 he left Brady's employ to establish a rival business, taking with him many of the gallery's most experienced artists.
As he had done for Brady, Gardner sent teams of photographers to follow the Union armies and harvest pictures for his new gallery. By the end of the war, he had amassed a collection of nearly three thousand glass negatives from which he would select and print one hundred for his landmark two-volume 1866 publication featured in this gallery, Gardner's Photographic Sketch Book of the War. As a summation of the war, the Sketch Book—the nation's first book of photographs—includes the work of eleven artists and is remarkably egalitarian.

Gardner credited each photographer for the negatives made in the field and himself as the work's printer. No other publisher at the time gave credit to the individual field operators who witnessed the carnage, slogged through the mud, and lived in their carriages and tents to get the pictures.
Artist and writer, Walter Robinson: "By far the greatest photography show the Met has ever mounted -- historical documents of almost unbearable poignancy."

Walter is listening to the audio guide for the exhibit, a walk-through narrated by Jeff Rosenheim and Harold Holzer. Let me suggest that you do the same.
"Unfit for Service at the Battle-field of Gettysburg," July 6, 1863

Photograph by Alexander Gardner or Timothy H. O'Sullivan
Emancipated Slaves Brought from Louisiana by Colonel George H. Hanks, December, 1963

The eight former slaves sat in New York City for a single large-format portrait, and numerous cartes de visite by Myran H. Kimball, a Broadway gallerist.

Reproductions were for sale: one dollar for the large pictures and twenty-five cents for the smaller cartes des visite.

On verso of the cards was the statement: "The net proceeds from the sale of the Photographs will be devoted to the education of colored people in the Gulf, now under the command of Maj. Gen Banks."

Since at least 1830, it had been a violation of Louisiana law to teach a slave to read or write.

Look carefully at Wilson Chin's forehead (top left).

It reveals the brand--V.B.M.-- of a harsh reality. Many slaves were branded like cattle. The photographer retouched the initials on the original negative to make them appear even more visible in the albumen silver print.
Patriotic Young Woman Holding Flag, 1861–65
Unknown Artist

Behind the front lines, many women North and South devoted themselves to humanitarian or charity work with wounded soldiers, widows, and orphaned children.

They also converted their homes into small "factories" filled with like-minded needleworkers who dedicated themselves to producing quilts, blankets, and socks for their local regiments. Many even worked outside the home in armories and ammunition factories.

This young woman is likely an actress in a regional or traveling theatrical company that put on short patriotic plays.
Anna Etheridge, after May 30, 1863–1865
Albumen silver print (carte de visite) from glass negative
Unknown Artist
Michael J. McAfee Collection

Social customs in the 1860s restricted the number of public roles for women during the war. Among the rarest occupational portraits are those of nurses, such as Anna Etheridge, who served in the Second and Third Regiments of the Michigan Volunteer Infantry. Known as "Michigan Annie" or "Gentle Anna," she enlisted as a nurse in 1861 and was present at Bull Run, Gettysburg, and thirty other battles. She poses wearing her "work clothes" and a feathered hat. Pinned to her blouse is the Kearny Medal, a Union decoration awarded to soldiers for "overwhelming bravery," which she received on May 27, 1863. It took Congress another twenty-four years to recognize her meritorious service and award her a standard veteran's pension.
One of the most interesting parts of the exhibition relates to a display of photographs by Reed Brockway Bontecou, a physician who not only treated the wounded but took photographs of them to teach fellow doctors.

Dr. Bontecou's images of amputees and war survivors reveal a revolutionary purpose for the young medium of photography: medical documentation and teaching.

Dr. Reed Bontecou was mustered into service in May, 1861, and served as a surgeon throughout the war. He photographed his patients as they arrived from the battlefield, before and after surgery, in recovery, or in death. A medium that had started out providing millions of Americans with portraits now became a tool for study, for documentation, and for teaching.
Reed Brockway Bontecou
American, 1824-1907

Union Private Parkhurst received a gunshot wound to the head at Farmville, Virginia, in the final weeks of the Civil War.

The ball fractured the upper portion of the soldier's front bone, and he was removed to Harewood Hospital. Dr. Bontecou's printed notes on the reverse of his card-mounted teaching photograph reveal that Parkhurst was fifty years old and that after treatment at the hospital his health progressed favorably.

"Doing well," Bontecou observed. The portrait is a good example of how at times the surgeon used enlargements to bring attention to a specific wound and its treatment. In this case, studying his patient from above, he also created a sublime document of medical recovery and human introspection.
Reed Brockway Bontecou

Corporal Israel Spotts, Company G, 200th Pennsylvania Volunteers, April-May 1865

Dr. Bontecou's patient history for Corporal Spotts, aged 24, explains that nearing the end of his treatment, the wounded soldier deserted from the hospital. Presumably he believed he was healthy enough to head for home after three years of hard service. Spotts died four months later, on September 20, 1865.

Dr. Bontecou had written:

"The patient did remarkably well after the operation; was doing well and in tolerably good condition when he deserted from this hospital, May 28th, 1865. Treatment in this case was simple dressings, anodynes and supporting throughout.
Private James H. Stokes, Company H, 185th New York Volunteers, April-May 1965.

Pvt. Stokes was admitted to the hospital with a gunshot wound of right forearm and elbow. " The wound healed kindly, but slowly." After being treated for gangrene with terentine and kerosine oil and a nutritious diet, Stokes was discharged with anchylosis of joint.

This is the beginning of medical photography, and it was made for many purposes, but one of which was to show that despite the great cost of the war -- 750,000 dead -- individuals who had proper medical care and were in the hands of doctors had survived and were going to, with perhaps a missing limb, move on to the next phase of their life.
More photographs by Dr. Reed Brockway Bontecou.

Almost an entire gallery is devoted to the subject of medical photography.
Mourning Corsage with Portrait of Abraham Lincoln, April 1865;
Black and white silk with tintype set inside brass button

Harold Holzer on audio: "This intricate and loving tribute to Lincoln really represents the depth of emotion that one felt in the United States after his assassination, the care that people took to assemble these symbols of grieving. And it was sort of a perfect storm of circumstance that made this so.

"First, Lincoln died in the midst of the exhilarating celebration of peace. So it was an emotional low following an emotional high .... He was shot on Good Friday, and funerals were preached for him on Easter Sunday, which also happened to be the end of the Jewish holiday of Passover. So for Jews and Christians throughout the United States, this was an almost transcendent experience. Lincoln was seen as a modern Christ figure, who had died for his country's sins. He was seen as a modern Moses, who had led people to the promised land, but not quite lived to get to the other side. So there was this emotional, religious upheaval grieving his death ..."
In Memory of Abraham Lincoln, 1865

Maquette with albumen silver prints (cartes de visite).
"Planning the Capture of Booth," 1865
Alexander Gardner

Colonel Lafayette C. Baker, Chief of the Secret Service; Lieutenant Luther B. Baker, left; and Lieutenant Colonel Everton J. Conger, right.

Alexander Gardner's long-term relationship with the federal government and the Army of the Potomac gave him unparalleled access to subjects other photographers could not attain, especially in the days following John Wilkes Booth's assassination of the president.

Here, Secret Service Director Colonel Lafayette Baker sits and studies maps of the area where Booth was believed to be hiding in Maryland or Virginia.

Booth was found hiding in a barn near Port Royal, Virginia, and fatally shot when he refused to surrender.
"Execution of the Conspirators," July 7, 1865
Alexander Gardner

President Lincoln was assassinated on April 14, 1865—just five days after Lee's surrender at Appomattox. These are four of the eight convicted conspirators in his death.

Lincoln's actual killer, John Wilkes Booth, had been shot by a Union soldier shortly after the assassination.
Execution of Lincoln Assassination Conspirators After the Trap Sprung.
Sheila Metcalf in the Met's gift shop where you will want to tarry before leaving.
Great selection of books on sale.
Postcards from the exhibition: $1.50 each.
Civil War Caps, Blue Union Cotton Cap, Grey Confederate Cotton Cap: $9.95 each.
Civil War Canteens: $19.95 each.
Some coins and tokens from The Civil War.
Abraham Lincoln
Reproduction of the original, 1912
Gutzon Borglum
(American, 1867-1941)
Bonded bronze, patinated by hand
A framed poster for your wall.
Jeff Rosenheim and Tom Campbell greet invited guests at the exhibition entrance.
Michael Lapthorne designed the exhibition. Eileen Travell of the Met's Photographic Studio photographed each work of art featured in the show for the exhibition catalogue.
Joseph Cunningham and his partner, Bruce Barnes.

Mr. Cunningham is with Rohlfs Decorative Arts. Charles Rohlfs (1853-1936) was known for his unprecedented designs of "artistic furniture."

Mr. Cunningham is the new Director of the George Eastman House in Rochester.
Predrag Dimitrijevic and Ryan Franklin are two Met Technicians, who, with their colleagues, designed the large frames and small picture mounts, and then installed the complex exhibition.
Victoria Newhouse is a writer and architectural historian. Her most recent book, Site and Sound (Monecelli Press), addresses the aesthetics and acoustics in concert halls and opera houses.

She was a recent guest on the Charlie Rose show.
Emily Pulitzer and Si Newhouse.

The grandfather of Mrs. Pulitzer's husband was the great journalist Joseph Pulitzer in whose name prizes are awarded each May.

Mr. Newhouse owns Condé Nast and is a serious art collector.
Kaitlin Zaidel, 19, is a college student at Central Connecticut. Rebecca Sue, 25, is a fashion designer. "My boyfriend's a Civil War historian so that's why I'm here." She's wearing "an old vintage thing I sewed up ... sort of Frankensteined it."
The Met's Barbara Weinberg and Amy O'Reilly Rizzi. Ms. Weinberg recently curated the George Bellows exhibition and is working on another show: "American Paintings and The Civil War." Ms. Rizzi works in the Development Office. Exhibition catalog: "The Civil War and American Art" by Eleanor Jones Harvey, 317 pp., co-published with Yale University Press.

The exhibit is now on view at The National Museum of American Art in Washington, D.C., the exhibit will at the Met: May 27-Sept. 2.
David Vaughan and his 17-year-old son David Vaughan Jr. travelled from Atlanta for the opening night celebration. The Vaughans loaned 25 hard images of Southern Confederate soldiers to the Met.

"The Confederate soldiers in the exhibition are from different Southern states, but most are Georgians."
David Vaughan in front of the vitrine holding some of his loans.
"These are two of the finest examples of Confederate soldiers — hard images — tintypes and amber collodion processes."
Susan Morrison, articles editor of The New Yorker.

"Jeff is an old friend from the kids' birthday party circuit. This show he's done is brilliant — an epic feat of photographic history, and a heartbreaking record of the war."
Jeff Rosenheim and his mother Eddie Rosenheim.
Philip and Jennifer Maritz are close friends of Jeff Rosenheim's and loaned a daguerreotype to the exhibition.

I overheard Jeff commenting, "It's nice when you can turn your childhood friends into supporters."
Gallerist James Danziger. Pete Zaidel, 22, works for the Washington Olympic National Park service as an aquatic scientist. "My Dad contributed a few images to this show."
Deborah Willis and her husband, Hank Thomas. Ms. Willis is the Chairman of NYU's Photography Department and Mr. Willis is in real estate.

Deborah Willis was a MacArthur Fellow in 2000. She and her husband are the parents of Hank Willis Thomas, the photographer who exhibits at Jack Shainman Gallery.
Charles Traub is the Chair of Photography, Video and Related Media at School of Visual Arts. He is photographing a project about Ulysses Grant. Mike and Vera Hearn. Mike Hearn heads the Met's Asian Art Department; his wife is a professor at NYU.
Joyce Menschel, a trustee of the museum.

The Met's library, named after Ms. Menschel, contains more than ten thousand volumes relating to the history of photography and to the Museum's collection of photographs.
Jeff Rosenheim and his 17-year-old daughter Julia. Dr. Kent Sepkowitz looking at a stereopticon photograph. Dr. Sepkowitz is a renowned infectious disease expert at Memorial Sloan Kettering. He's writes regularly for The New York Times and Huffpost.
Steve DePass.

"I'm called America's singing poet. I earn my living singing poetry all over the world.

"As a historian, poet and a black person raised in America, what strikes me about this show is that photography was still in its infancy during the Civil War but the visionaries involved had a special gift from which we all benefit."
Ashton Hawkins was former legal counsel for the Met. Johnnie Moore is a performance artist.
Left: Donilee McGinnis just moved to NYC from Portland and is hoping to get a job in broadcasting.

A graduate in communications, she worked for Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Right: Rebecca Sunde, 25, recently moved to NYC from Ann Arbor, Michigan. She is a researcher for a University of Michigan professor studying the early environmental history of Manhattan.
William Earle Williams is a professor in the Humanities and Fine Arts at Haverford College. He's also the college's Curator of Photography.

Professor Williams said he had never seen a photograph of Sojourner Truth (on left) in such pristine condition.
Bill Burback and Alice George. Mr. Burback teaches a graduate course in Museum Education. Alice George, recovering from spine surgery, is a legendary picture editor (retired from Time Magazine) who is now editing books.
Arthur Fleischer, corporate attorney. Michael Stout was a close friend of photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. As his lawyer, Mr. Stout helped Mapplethorpe set up his foundation.
Pamela Barr collaborated with Jeff Rosenheim on the informative captions throughout the exhibition.
She has worked at the Met since 1985.

We are pals and we went to hear Pete Seeger and Arlo Guthrie perform at Carnegie Hall last year. Barr plays the guitar and has great singing chops.
Laura Lindgren designed the catalogue arranging the pictures and the text, selecting the type fonts and sizing the photographs.

It is a beautiful book and a "must-have" for anyone who is interested in the Civil War and for all who have enjoyed one of the most spectacular exhibitions ever mounted on this subject.

The text, written by curator and photography historian Jeff Rosenheim, provides a bracing commentary on the importance of the camera during this turbulent period. Rosenbaum shows how studio portraits and battlefield scenes galvanized public opinion and how enterprising artists created a vast and enduring visual archive.

Published to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, the book ($50) features
more than 200 photographs and related artworks and ephemera.
Jeff Rosenheim and Pamela Barr are both Yale graduates.
Laura Lindgren, Jeff Rosenheim, and Pamela Barr.
Pamela Barr and Harold Holzer. Ms. Barr is decked out in handmade boots from Turkmenistan that she
bought in the Grand Bazaar, Istanbul.
Glenn Collins is one of my favorite writers at The New York Times. He has worked there for 42 years reporting on everything from the circus to a Spanish chef.
Ted Widmer, a historian who teaches at Brown University, is a former speech writer for Bill Clinton.

"This exhibit has given us completely new windows into a war we thought we knew so well that we could never see it in a new light."
Attorney Thomas Luz. Doon Arbus handles the estate of her mother, the late Diane Arbus.
Jeff Rosenheim and Harold Holzer are talking with Professor John Marszalek, Director of the Ulysses S. Grant Association.
Mr. Williams checking out his recently purchased exhibition catalogue. He also bought the one on the upcoming show on Civil War American Art.
William Williams and Denise Bethel on their way out of the Met. Ms. Bethel is a Senior Vice President of Sotheby's and Director of the auction house's Photographs Department.
Mario Dyyon has worked security at the Met forever. He is an artist and it's always a pleasure to see him guarding the galleries or checking coats.

It's the end of a great evening, hence the empty wooden hangers.
Photographer Neil Selkirk, coatless, obviously didn't require the good services of Mr. Dyyon.
The extended captions accompanying my photographs of the exhibition are a compilation of The Met's wall captions, the audio transcript, and text from the catalogue.

Special thanks to Egle Zygas, Jeff L. Rosenheim, Harold Holzer and Pamela Barr.

Text and photographs © by Jill Krementz: all rights reserved. Contact Jill Krementz here.