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Photography and Nation Building in the Nineteenth Century

October 6 at 2:00
East Building Auditorium
Makeda Best, Richard L. Menschel Curator of Photography, Harvard Art Museums

On the 180th anniversary of photography’s introduction to the world in 1839, The Eye of the Sun: Nineteenth-Century Photographs from the National Gallery of Art offers an in-depth look at the development of the medium throughout its first 50 years. In this lecture held in conjunction with the exhibition, Makeda Best will explore the function of slavery and enslaved people in visual narratives about the Civil War. Working through the photography by and associated with the Scottish born photographer Alexander Gardner and his Washington, D.C. based photographic corps, Best will compare and contrast portrayals of slavery and enslaved people, and demonstrate how Gardner contextualized chattel slavery within a broader and decades long discussion about the meaning of American democracy. 

Made possible by the James D. and Kathryn K. Steele Fund for Photography.

Alexander Gardner, A Sharpshooter's Last Sleep, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, July 1863, albumen print, Gift of Mary and Dan Solomon and Patrons' Permanent Fund, 2006.133.73

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