Imagining the West

Cathedral Rock
Carleton E. Watkins, Cathedral Rock, c. 1866. Albumen print.











Mike Kelly in Boston Beaneaters uniform cabinet card c. 1888











Maxime Du Camp, View of Nile ruins, 1850.
Bisson Brothers, Valley of Chamonix seen from Le Chapeau, 1860.











Portrait Galleries


Nadar's Portrait Studio on the Boulevard des Capucines, 1860.











Portrait Gallery

A. Berghaus, M. B. Brady's New Photographic Gallery, New York, 1861. Engraving.











Rollin Heber Neal

Southworth and Hawes, Rollin Heber Neal
(Pastor of the First Baptist Church, Boston)
, c. 1850. Daguerreotype.












Dorothy Catheriene Draper

John Draper, Miss Dorothy Catherine Draper, c.1840. Daguerreotype.
Southworth and Hawes, Rollin Heber Neal (Pastor of the First Baptist Church, Boston), c. 1850. Daguerreotype.











Picture Factories


Behind the scenes in a picture factory











Daguerreotype Saloons


Daguerrian Saloon

A traveling daguerrian studio or "Daguerreotype Saloon"











Daguerreotype saloon, c. 1850.











The blossoming popularity and accessibility of the daguerreotype greatly influenced the emergence of new classes of image makers, which then encouraged the development of new classes of images...


Occupation Portraits


Family Vegetable Woman

Carl Ferdinand Stelzner, Mother Albers, The Family Vegetable Woman, c. 1845. Daguerreotype.


More occupational daguerreotypes











Vacation Pictures


Platt D. Babbitt, Tourists Viewing Niagara Falls from Prospect Point, c. 1855.



More Tourist Daguerreotypes










Post-Mortem Portraits


Post-Mortem Portrait

Unknown Photographer, Post-Mortem Portrait, Woman Holding Baby, c. 1855. Daguerreotype.











Photographer Unknown. Father and Mother Holding a Dead Child, c. 1850 - 1860s.  Daguerreotype.










Three kinds of stereoscopes

The Sterescope
1832 Sir Charles Wheatstone describes the phenomena of binocular vision and designs an apparatus that fuses two separate drawings into a single three dimensional image

Prephotography Stereocards

Three kinds of stereoscopes
Unknown Artist. Pre-photography stereo cards. c. 1840.











Stereoview of theGreat Exhibition, 1851.
In 1851 Queen Victoria is presented a special stereoscope during the Great Exhibition and within 3 months, 250,000 stereoscopes and millions of cards are sold to the public
By 1856, the London Stereoscopic Company had sold 500,000 viewers
London Stereoscopic Company motto, "No home without a stereoscope"











Stereo Camera

Stereoscopic Camera












Holmes-Bates Stereoscope with stereograph.











Stereoscopes in use

Photographer Unknown, Untitled (Stereoscopes in Use), c. 1860s.











Chinese woman with bound feet











Geography Lesson
“What an educational revolution is here… Why our Tommys and Harrys will know the world’s surface as well as a circumnavigator…What a stock of knowledge our Tommys and Harrys will begin life with!  Perhaps in ten years or so the question will be seriously discussed… whether it will be any use to travel now that you can send out your artist to bring home Egypt in his carpetbag to amuse the drawing room with.” – 1858 issue of The Athenaeum
J.F.A. Claudet, The Geography Lesson, 1851.
Stereoscopic daguerreotype.











Photographs as Documents


Maxime Du Camp, The Colossus of Abu-Simbel, Nubia, 1850. Salted Paper Print.


"I had realized upon my previous travels that I wasted much valuable time trying to draw buildings and scenery I did not care to forget.  I drew slowly and not very correctly... I felt that I needed an instrument of precision to record my impressions if I was to reproduce them accurately." - Maxime Du Camp











Maxime Du Camp, The Colossus of Abu-Simbel, Nubia. 1850.
Francis Frith, The Sphinx and the Great Pyramid Geezah, 1858. Albumen print.











Mechanical Photography = a verbatim style of photography which featured maximum detail and sharpness

Great Pyramids

Frith's trademark "mechanical picturesque" approach:
  • Juxtapose human figures with giant monuments
  • Dense detail
  • Sense of mass and scale
  • Avoided expressive or dramatic effects
Francis Frith, Great Pyramids, 1862.











Mexican-American War
1846 - 1848

General Wool

  • Fought after Texas seceded from Mexico
  • Resulted in the U.S. acquiring
    California and New Mexico
  • Considered the first war to be
    photographed as it happened
  • Coincides with the rise of American newspapers
Photographer Unknown, General Wool and Staff, Calle Real, Saltillo, Mexico. c. 1847.











Photographaer Unknown, Amputation, Mexican- American War, Cerro Gordo, 1847.











Crimean War
1853 - 1856
Fought between Imperial Russia and an alliance of the United Kingdom, France and the Ottoman Empire


Railroad Yard

Roger Fenton, Railroad Yard Balaclava #2, 1855.











Roger Fenton, The 57th Regiment, 1855.











The "Photographic Van"


More of Fenton's Crimean War photographs











Death of General Warren

John Trumbull, The Death of General Warren at the Battle of Bunker's Hill, June 17, 1775, 1786.











"Whatever he represents from the field must be real." - London Times


The Valley of the Shadow of Death

Roger Fenton, The Valley of the Shadow of Death, 1855.











Civil War
1861 - 1865
  • Conflict between northern & southern states
  • Involved numerous disputes, although most of them centered on the issue of slavery
  • More than 300 photographers documented the battle zones
  • At least 623,000 killed in the war
More than 23,000 died in Battle at Antietam
Alexander Gardner, Carnage at Antietam, 1862.










Mathew Brady's Gallery of Illustrious Americans


Brady's Photo Outfit
Roger Fenton's "Photographic Van"
Mathew Brady's photo outfit during Civil War











Burial Party

John Reekie, A Burial Party, Cold Harbor, VA, 1865.


"The exhibition of [Brady's] images [from the Battle of Antietam], only a month after the battle, caused a sensation. A reporter for The New York Times wrote, 'Mr. Brady has done something to bring home to us the terrible reality and earnestness of war. If he has not brought bodies and laid them in our dooryards and along the streets, he has done something very like it.'" -Kee Malesky, NPR