Photography in Nineteenth-Century America
Edited and with a a contribution by Martha A. Sandweiss
(Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1991)
From the moment Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre announced his invention in 1839, photography captured the imagination of the American public and became an important force in the nation's cultural life. This book is the first major exploration of the relationship between photography and culture in nineteenth-century America, as the medium changed from an awe-inspiring new process of fixing an image on a silvered plate to an accepted way of recording and interpreting the visible world.
The book inlcudes essays by six noted scholars. Alan Trachtenberg analyzes the impact of the daguerreotype on American literary culture. Barbara McCandless traces the development of studio portraiture and the rise of a market for celebrity images. Martha A. Sandweiss examines how early photographers helped shape American views of the West. Keith F. Davis examines photography during the Civil War. Pater Bacon Hales looks at landscape photography and city views during the late nineeth century. And Sarah Greenough concludes with an analysis of the movement towards "artistic" photography, particularly among the camera clubs of the 1880s and 90s.
The book includes 226 photographic illustrations.
". . . an original, comprehensive and visually satisfying study of how photography, as a developing art and science, influenced and reflected American social history. Daguerreotypes of loved ones, celebrities and California gold rush scene dazzled home folks in the 1840s. Mathew Brady, Alexander Gardner, Timoth O'Sullivan and other experts in the later wet-plate process published gripping views of Civil War battlefields, then documented for an eager public the scenic wonders, railroad building, cowboys, settlers and Indians of America's westward march. . . . six vivid essays analyze with a fresh viewpoint photography's evolution from mammoth-plate scenics to snapshot cameras.