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Americans of 1840s

In 1844, Mathew Brady opened a photography studio at the corner of Broadway and Fulton Street in New York. By 1845, he began to exhibit his portraits of famous Americans, including the likes of Senator Daniel Webster and poet Edgar Allan Poe. In 1849, he opened a studio at 625 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. Brady's early images were daguerreotypes, and he won many awards for his work.

In 1850, Brady produced The Gallery of Illustrious Americans, a portrait collection of prominent contemporary figures. The album, which featured noteworthy images including the elderly Andrew Jackson at the Hermitage, was not financially rewarding but invited increased attention to Brady's work.

When the Civil War started, he used a mobile studio and darkroom enabled vivid battlefield photographs. Thousands of war scenes were captured, as well as portraits of generals and politicians on both sides of the conflict, though most of these were taken by his assistants, rather than by Brady himself. After the war, these pictures went out of fashion, and the government did not purchase the master-copies as he had anticipated. Brady's fortunes declined sharply, and he died in debt.
[Henry Peters Gray, half-length portrait, head three-quarters to left]
443 Media in collectionpage 2 of 5
[Jeremiah Clemens, half-length portrait, facing front]

[Jeremiah Clemens, half-length portrait, facing front]

Democratic Senator from Alabama, 1849-1853.

[Edward John Phelps, half-length portrait, three-quarters to the right, arms folded]

[Edward John Phelps, half-length portrait, three-quarters to the right...

Lawyer; Second Comptroller of the Treasury, 1851-1853; U.S. Minister to Great Britain; President of the American Bar Association, 1880; Professor of law at Yale University.

[Memucan Hunt, half-length portrait, three-quarters to the right]

[Memucan Hunt, half-length portrait, three-quarters to the right]

Envoy, Minister Plenipotentiary, from Republic of Texas.

[R.M.T. Hunter, half-length portrait, three-quarters to the left]

[R.M.T. Hunter, half-length portrait, three-quarters to the left]

Whig Congressman from Virginia, 1837-1843, 1845-1847; Senator, 1847-1861.

[Levi Woodbury, half-length portrait, head three-quarters to the right]

[Levi Woodbury, half-length portrait, head three-quarters to the right...

Governor of New Hampshire, 1823-1824; Democratic Senator, 1825-1831, 1841-1845; Secretary of the Navy, 1831-1834; Secretary of the Treasury, 1834-1841; Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, 1845-1851.

[Francis Lister Hawks, half-length portrait, three-quarters to the right, eyes front]

[Francis Lister Hawks, half-length portrait, three-quarters to the rig...

Reverend, Protestant Episcopal clergyman, church historian, first president of the University of Louisiana.

[Truman Smith, half-length portrait, facing left, wearing spectacles]

[Truman Smith, half-length portrait, facing left, wearing spectacles]

Whig Congressman from Connecticut, 1839-1843, 1845-1949; Senator, 1849-1854.

[Nicholas Patrick Wiseman, three-quarter length portrait, seated in armchair, three-quarters to the left, in clerical robe]
[Henry Grinnell, head-and-shoulders portrait, profile to the left]

[Henry Grinnell, head-and-shoulders portrait, profile to the left]

Merchant; backer of polar expeditions; first President of the American Geographical Society.

[George Edmund Badger, half-length portrait, facing three-quarters to the left]

[George Edmund Badger, half-length portrait, facing three-quarters to ...

Whig Senator from North Carolina, 1846-1855; U.S. Secretary of the Navy, 1841.

[Israel T. Hatch, half-length portrait, slightly to right, eyes front]

[Israel T. Hatch, half-length portrait, slightly to right, eyes front]

Democratic Congressman from New York, 1857-1859.

[Washington Hunt, half-length portrait, slightly to right]

[Washington Hunt, half-length portrait, slightly to right]

Whig Congressman from New York, 1843-1849; Governor of New York, 1850-1852.

[Editorial staff of the New York Tribune]

[Editorial staff of the New York Tribune]

Seated, left to right: George M. Snow, financial editor; Bayard Taylor; Horace Greeley; George Ripley, literary editor; Standing, left to right: William Henry Fry, music editor; Charles A. Dana; Henry J. Raymond.

[William Cranch, half-length portrait, three-quarters to left]

[William Cranch, half-length portrait, three-quarters to left]

Chief Justice of the Circuit Court of the District of Columbia.

[Howell Cobb, half-length portrait, three-quarters to the right]

[Howell Cobb, half-length portrait, three-quarters to the right]

Democratic Congressman from Georgia, 1843-1851, 1855-1857; Governor of Georgia, 1851-1853; U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, 1857-1860.

[Benjamin B. French, half-length portrait, facing left]

[Benjamin B. French, half-length portrait, facing left]

U.S. Commissioner of Public Buildings.

[Henry Clay, three-quarter length portrait, three-quarters to the left, facing front, seated, holding cane, tall hat on table with tablecloth]

[Henry Clay, three-quarter length portrait, three-quarters to the left...

Republican Senator from Kentucky, 1806-1807, 1810-1811; Congressman, 1811-1814, 1815-1821, 1823-1825; U.S. Secretary of State, 1825-1829; Whig Senator, 1831-1842, 1849-1852; Democratic Republican candidate for ... more

[John Van Buren, half-length portrait, three-quarters to left]

[John Van Buren, half-length portrait, three-quarters to left]

Democratic congressman from New York, 1841-1843; son of President Martin Van Buren.

[Alexander Hugh Holmes Stuart, full-length portrait, standing slightly to the left, one hand resting on the back of a chair; studio background showing prominently]

[Alexander Hugh Holmes Stuart, full-length portrait, standing slightly...

Whig Congressman from Virginia, 1841-1843; Secretary of the Interior, 1850-1853.

[Unidentified man, half-length portrait, body in profile to left, facing front, with beard]

[Unidentified man, half-length portrait, body in profile to left, faci...

Photo appears to show Thomas Hicks. (Hicks identification provided by Clair Robertson, 2010, based on a portrait in Scribners, April 1895, p. 442.) A previous identification suggested another artist, Aaron Dra... more

[Daniel Dickinson, head-and-shoulders portrait, slightly to the left, facing front]
[Thomas Butler King, half-length portrait, nearly facing front]

[Thomas Butler King, half-length portrait, nearly facing front]

Whig Congressman from Georgia, 1839-1843, 1845-1850.

[Thomas Butler King, half-length portrait, nearly facing front]

[Thomas Butler King, half-length portrait, nearly facing front]

Whig Congressman from Georgia, 1839-1843, 1845-1850.

[John Y. Mason, half-length portrait, nearly facing front]

[John Y. Mason, half-length portrait, nearly facing front]

Democratic Congressman from Virginia, 1831-1837; Secretary of the Navy, 1844-1845, 1846-1849; U.S. Attorney General, 1845-1846; U.S. Minister to France, 1854-1859.

[John Y. Mason, half-length portrait, nearly facing front]

[John Y. Mason, half-length portrait, nearly facing front]

Democratic Congressman from Virginia, 1831-1837; Secretary of the Navy, 1844-1845, 1846-1849; U.S. Attorney General, 1845-1846; U.S. Minister to France, 1854-1859.

[John P. Hale, head-and-shoulders portrait, face nearly in profile to the right]

[John P. Hale, head-and-shoulders portrait, face nearly in profile to ...

Democratic Congressman from New Hampshire, 1843-1845; Senator, 1847-1853, 1855-1865; Free Soil candidate for President, 1852.

[John P. Hale, head-and-shoulders portrait, face nearly in profile to the right]

[John P. Hale, head-and-shoulders portrait, face nearly in profile to ...

Democratic Congressman from New Hampshire, 1843-1845; Senator, 1847-1853, 1855-1865; Free Soil candidate for President, 1852.

[Robert Charles Winthrop, head-and-shoulders portrait, slightly to left, eyes front]

[Robert Charles Winthrop, head-and-shoulders portrait, slightly to lef...

Whig Congressman from Massachusetts, 1840-1850; Senator, 1850-1851.