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Paper Promises: Early American Photography

Getty. Mar. 2018. 224p. photos. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781606065495. $49.95. PHOTOG
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A great deal has been written about early European photography, focusing on the inventions of the daguerreotype in France and the calotype in the UK, yet little has been documented about the ways in which the artists in the United States employed this new medium. This companion volume to an exhibition at the J. Paul Getty Museum traces American experimentation and invention with photographs made on paper from the 1840s to the 1860s. Divided into two sections, "Early Experimentation" and "Moving West and into War," it showcases the evolution of the photographic medium in America but also traces U.S. history at a time when the nation was undergoing extreme change and facing political upheaval. Well-known 19th-century American photographers, such as Matthew Brady, Alexander Gardner, and Carleton E. Watkins are featured as well as an examination of vernacular images and rare period photos from lesser-known practitioners. More than 200 illustrations offer a powerful visual record of 19th-century American history.
VERDICT Recommended for enthusiasts of American history and the history of photography.

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