“Antebellum Portraits by Mathew Brady” traces the trajectory of Mathew Brady’s early career through daguerreotypes, ambrotypes and salted paper prints in the National Portrait Gallery’s collection. The museum’s Daguerreian Gallery is the only permanent exhibition space in Washington dedicated to showcasing examples of photographic portraiture from the dawn of photography.
This exhibition showcases the Portrait Gallery’s many fine examples of Brady’s pre-Civil War portraiture. Among the highlights is an ambrotype of western explorer and civil engineer Frederick West Lander—the first portrait to be purchased with funds from the photography-acquisitions endowment established by the Joseph L. and Emily K. Gidwitz Memorial Foundation. Also of interest is the photograph of presidential hopeful Abraham Lincoln—a rare, large-format, salted paper print from 1860, purchased with the support of the Alan and Lois Fern Acquisition Fund.
The exhibition also features historic engravings and several advertising broadsides Brady used to market his portrait enterprise. It is on view through June 3, 2018.