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Gallery show pays homage to Civil War photographer

Lincoln the candidate, 1860  
January 3, 1998
Web posted at: 10:33 p.m. EST (0333 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Mathew Brady introduced Abraham Lincoln's sunken face and haunted eyes to America.

Today, the National Portrait Gallery is paying homage to the Civil War-era photographer, who is said to have written history with his camera.

"Mathew Brady was our first celebrity photographer," says Mary Panzer, the Washington gallery's curator of photographs.

Brady's work includes images of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee and the battlefields of Gettysburg. He documented Edward, Prince of Wales, on the first visit by British royalty to America in 1860.

CNN's Louise Schiavone examines the work of Matthew Brady
icon 2 min. VXtreme video
QuickTime slideshow of Brady's work

video icon 224K/320x240
QuickTime slideshow

But the portrait of Lincoln may be one of the most familiar of Brady's pictures. His image of the then-beardless presidential candidate was used to create newspaper pictures and campaign buttons.

"Prior to 1860, for those living in a vast majority of the territory that was then the United States, you voted for someone who you never saw," says Jonathan H. Mann, publisher of The Rail Splitter Newsletter.


Brady's work introduced a new perspective into politicking -- for the first time the voter could see a photographic likeness of the candidate.

Brady later made Lincoln's inaugural photograph and photographed the president's funeral procession.

Brady received $25,000 from Congress for title to his collection of negatives and prints in 1875. He died in 1896.

Correspondent Louise Schiavone contributed to this story.


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