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What was the Art Deco style originally known as?

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Art Deco Collectibles: Fashionable Objets from the Jazz Age
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In the 1920s and 1930s the Art Deco style influenced everything from art and architecture, interiors and furnishings, automobiles and boats to the small, personal objects that were part of everyday life: Featuring high-quality photography and vintage illustrations and ephemera, this book brings these objects to life in exquisite detail for the first time. The objects in this themed book encompass the Deco style at its most alluring, as well as the modernity, excitement, and social revolution of the Jazz Age.

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French Art Deco Geometric Brooch

Mathew Brady―Documentarian
by Bob Brooke


If it weren’t for Mathew B. Brady, most people today wouldn’t have any idea of the horrors of the American Civil War. He was the first to use the medium of photography to document an historic event that changed a nation. And while the thousands of Civil War photographs that bear the Mathew Brady’s name are well known. What isn’t known is that he most likely took very few of them himself.

Like the leading artists of the Renaissance such as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, and current ones like glass artist Dale Chihuly, the end result for Brady was the culmination of work of a talented team of assistants, most of whom eventually struck out on their own. But Brady was the mastermind who directed what they should photograph and how they should do it.

Brady, himself, photographed and made portraits of many senior Union officers in the War, including Ulysses S. Grant, Ambrose Burnside, George Custer, William Sherman, On the Confederate side, Brady photographed: Jefferson Davis, P. G. T. Beauregard, Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee, and others.

Brady dealt directly with only the most distinguished subjects, while his assistants carried out all other portrait sessions. He photographed 18 of the 19 American presidents from John Quincy Adams to William McKinley. The exception was the 9th President, William Henry Harrison, who died in office three years before Brady started his photographic collection. Brady photographed Abraham Lincoln on many occasions. His Lincoln photographs have been used for the $5 bill and the Lincoln penny. One of his Lincoln photos was used by the National Bank Note Company as a model for the engraving on the 90-cent Lincoln Postage issue of 1869.

Although best known for his photographs of the War, Brady had established himself as one of the country’s preeminent photographers long before the first shots rang out at Fort Sumter in 1861.

Brady was one of the earliest and most famous photographers in America. Best known for his scenes of the Civil War, he studied under inventor Samuel Morse, who pioneered the daguerreotype technique in America. Brady opened his own studio in New York City in 1844.

When the Civil War began, Brady's use of a mobile studio and darkroom enabled thousands of vivid battlefield photographs to bring home the reality of the War to the public.

Mathew Brady’s Early Years
Brady was born between 1822 and 1824 in Warren County, New York, near Lake George. He was the youngest of three children to Irish immigrant parents, Andrew and Samantha Julia Brady. In official documents before and during the Civil War, however, he claimed to have been born in Ireland.

At age 16, Brady moved to Saratoga, New York, where he met portrait painter William Page and became Page's student. In 1839, the two traveled to Albany, and then to New York City, where Brady continued to study painting with Page and with Samuel Morse, Page's former teacher. Morse had met Louis Jacques Daguerre in France in 1839, and returned to the US to enthusiastically push the new daguerreotype invention of capturing images. At first, Brady only made the leather cases that held the daguerreotypes. But when Morse opened a studio and offered classes; Brady was one of the first students.

In 1844, Brady opened his own photography studio, the Daguerrean Miniature Gallery, at the corner of Broadway and Fulton Street in New York City. He immediately began to set himself apart from the dozens of other New York daguerreotype photographers, winning the top prize for a daguerreotype in the American Institute’s annual fair that same year.

By 1845, he began to exhibit his portraits of famous Americans, including that of Senator Daniel Webster and writer Edgar Allan Poe. In 1849, he opened a studio at 625 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. in the 1850s, ambrotype photography became popular, which gave way to the albumen print, a paper photograph produced from large glass negatives most commonly used in his Civil War photography.

In 1850, Brady produced The Gallery of Illustrious Americans, a portrait collection of prominent contemporary figures. Unfortunately, the album, which featured noteworthy images including the elderly Andrew Jackson at the Hermitage, wasn’t a financial success but did increase attention to Brady's work and artistry. In 1854, Parisian photographer André-Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri popularized the carte de visite, and these small pictures—the size of a visiting card—quickly became a popular novelty.

In 1856, Brady placed an ad in the New York Herald offering to produce "photographs, ambrotypes and daguerreotypes." This inventive ad pioneered, in the United States, the use of typeface and fonts that were distinct from the text of the publication and from that of other advertisements.

Documenting the Civil War
At the start of the Civil War, Brady saw a brisk increase in sales of cartes de visite to departing soldiers. Brady promoted to parents the idea of capturing their young soldiers' images before they might be lost to war. But he soon became interested in documenting the War, itself. He first applied to an old friend, General Winfield Scott, for permission to have his photographers travel to the battle sites, and eventually he made his application to President Lincoln himself. Lincoln granted permission in 1861, with the provision that Brady finance the project himself.

His efforts to document the Civil War on a grand scale by bringing his photographic studio onto the battlefields earned Brady his place in history. Despite the dangers, financial risk, and discouragement by his friends, Brady was determined.

He employed Alexander Gardner, James Gardner, Timothy H. O'Sullivan, William Pywell, George N. Barnard, Thomas C. Roche, and 17 other men, each of whom was given a traveling darkroom, to go out and photograph scenes from the Civil War. Brady generally resided in Washington, D.C., where he organized his assistants and rarely visited battlefields personally. Brady acted as the director. This may have been due, at least in part, to the fact that Brady's eyesight had begun to deteriorate in the 1850s.

When the Union army advanced into Virginia in July 1861, Brady followed. But he returned without any battlefield images. He was forced to flee back to Washington along with the entire army when the Confederates routed it at the First Battle of Bull Run.

His first popular photographs of the conflict were at the Second Battle of Bull Run, in which he and his team got so close to the action that they barely avoided capture. While most of the time the battle had ceased before photographs could be taken, Brady and his assistants came under direct fire at Bull Run, Petersburg, and Fredericksburg.

In October 1862, Brady opened an exhibition of photographs from the Battle of Antietam in his New York City gallery, titled The Dead of Antietam. It consisted of shocking and gruesome photographs of dead American soldiers as they fell on the battlefield of Antietam, captured by his Washington gallery manager Alexander Gardner. This was the first time that many Americans saw the realities of the War in photographs, as distinct from previous artists' impressions.

Through his many paid assistants, Brady took thousands of photos of Civil War scenes. Much of the popular understanding of the war comes from these photos. There are thousands of photos in the National Archives and the Library of Congress taken by Brady and his associates. The photographs include Lincoln, General Ulysses S. Grant, and soldiers in camps and on the battlefields. The images provide a pictorial cross reference of Civil War history. Brady wasn’t able to photograph actual battle scenes, as the photographic equipment in those days was cumbersome and still in the infancy of its technical development, requiring that a subject be still for a clear photo to be produced.

Brady’s ambitious efforts frequently put him in financial straits. This may have prompted Gardner to resign from Brady’s employ to open his own Washington gallery in May 1863. Her took with him many of the 1861 to 1862 “Incidents of the War” negatives, including all of the Antietam images. Key Brady photographers, including James Gibson and Timothy O’Sullivan, also went with him.

During the War, Brady’s gallery produced and sold Civil War photos by the hundreds, but so did Gardner and other photographers Following the conflict, a war-weary public lost interest in seeing photos of the war, and Brady's popularity and practice declined drastically.

Financial Hardship After the War
During the war, Brady spent over $100,000 to create over 10,000 plates. He expected the U.S. government to buy the photographs when the Civil War ended. Despite a recommendation from Congress' Joint Committee on the Library, the Government refused to do so, and Brady had to sell his New York City studio and file for bankruptcy. In 1875, the U.S. Government paid Brady $25,000 for the remaining Civil War photographs in his possession, but he remained deeply in debt.

In 1895, now in his 70s, Brady’s health began to decline after he was struck by a horsecar in Washington and suffered a broken ankle. He recovered well enough to move to New York and begin preparing an illustrated lecture of his Civil War photos for a presentation at Carnegie Hall. It was scheduled for January 30, 1896. Brady died penniless in the charity ward of Presbyterian Hospital in New York City on January 15, 1896 from complications from a car accident. Civil War veterans of the 7th New York Infantry paid for his funeral and buried him in the Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C.

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