British photographic history

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Among the most anticipated lots of a recent auction in Texas was a half-plate ambrotype of “The Gallant Pelham,” a native Alabamian who is among the most romanticized figures of the Civil War. It sold for US$41,825.

In 1861, John Pelham withdrew from West Point just weeks short of graduation to offer his services to the Confederacy. He was assigned as a lieutenant of artillery in Joseph E. Johnston’s army. This circa 1858 image by Mathew Brady was produced in Brady’s New York studio when Pelham was on leave from West Point. Brady is one of the most celebrated 19th century American photographers, best known for his documentation of the American Civil War and also credited with being the father of photojournalism.

Our very own 19th century Scottish photographer, Andrew Gardner, oversaw Brady's Washington DC studio until 1862 before he decided to go on his own.




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