Alexander Gardner


With the invention of a new type of photography, the wet-plate collodion the daguerrotype photograph became obsolete. The eyesight of Mathew Brady was also worsen at this time. He began to seek an assistant with the same energy and genius that he to had possessed, Alexander Gardner turned out to be that man.
Because of Gardners experience in publishing and ability to run the administrative side of Brady’s business, Brady was able to focus on his studio clientele. After Gardner’s taking over the administrative function, Brady realized how smooth and profitable his business was running.
The Imperial photograph was an innovation brought about by Gardner. The image was made by a Woodward Solar Camera, with the enlargements measuring 17 x 21 inches, were introduced in Brady’s New York studio and Washington was soon to follow.

In February of 1856 Gardner along with his brother James and apprentice Timothy H. O’Sullivan arrived in Washington D.C. to run Brady’s second studio/gallery.

b. October 17, 1821; d. 1882

Alexander Gardner was a Scot who emigrated to the United States and was hired by Matthew Brady, for whom he photographed the American Civil War. However, Brady’s practice of signing his employees’ pictures did not meet with Gardner’s approval, and after some years he left Brady’s firm and opened his own gallery in Washington DC.

Unlike the somewhat contrived war pictures taken by Fenton, Gardner’s are so factual as to be almost macabre. His book, “Gardner’s two-volume Photographic Sketchbook of the War” (meaning the Civil War) was published in 1866. The following year he recorded the building of the Union Pacific Railroad. He also documented the execution of the conspirators against Lincoln, and Lincoln’s funeral. In addition, he embarked upon making a collection of photographs of convicted criminals, for the Washington police force.



1 Response to “Alexander Gardner”

  1. 1 O3
    November 19, 2008 at 11:46 pm

    this 1866 portrait of Gardner at the library of Congress, I’ve yet to find. It’s ashame all this public domain Photography is on the market for-sale.

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1984 Computer portrait from State Fair

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