National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Larry J. West
Mathew B. Brady: European\Irish
Mathew Brady and his camera crew in the field
The name of Mathew Brady is synonymous with Civil War photography. His oeuvre alone made the war the nation’s first epic event to be recorded visually on a grand scale. Brady had studios in New York City and Washington, D.C., where he burnished his reputation for making celebrity portraiture. Yet it was his work in the battlefields—at Antietam, Gettysburg, the Wilderness, Petersburg, and Richmond—that was revelatory at the time and is still so transfixing today. Photographic technology could not yet record motion or live action, but Brady’s after-battle scenes are as close as we can get to visually experiencing the Civil War.
This photograph shows Brady, standing second from the right, in camp with his camera crew in Berlin (now Brunswick), Maryland.