cover image Photography in Nineteenth-Century America

Photography in Nineteenth-Century America

Martha A. Sandweiss, Keith Davis, Sarah Greenough. Amon Carter Museum, $60 (335pp) ISBN 978-0-8109-3659-1

Amherst College museum director Sandweiss offers 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 scenes dazzled home folks in the 1840s. Mathew Brady, Alexander Gardner, Timothy 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. Rich in detail (Broadway photographer Napoleon Sarony used a ``posing machine'' to manipulate his subject's head, arms and torso), six vivid essays analyze with a fresh viewpoint photography's evolution from mammoth-plate scenics to snapshot cameras. More than 200 superbly reproduced photographs illustrate the text. (Nov.)