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 Alexander Gardner

Alexander Gardner

Birth
Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland
Death 10 Dec 1882 (aged 61)
Washington, District of Columbia, District Of Columbia, USA
Burial Washington, District of Columbia, District Of Columbia, USA
Plot Section C, Lot 38, Site 8
Memorial ID 2200 · View Source
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Civil War Photographer. He was born in Paisley, Scotland, and was reared in poverty, and left school at 14 to work as a jeweler's apprentice. To further his education, he took evening classes at the Glasgow Athenaeum, studying astronomy, optics, physics and chemistry. At 21 he joined the Glasgow Sentinel as a reporter. By the 1850s, photography was flourishing in Paisley. His expertise in the wet-plate process soon gained him recognition, and he became editor of the Glasgow Sentinel. He published pamphlets promoting emigration to a United States colony called Clydesdale in the wilderness of Iowa. He persuaded many of his friends and relatives to settle in this semi-socialist "Utopia". He intended to join them but, because of an epidemic in the settlement, never did. He emigrated to New York City in 1856 and took a position at popular photographer Mathew Brady's New York gallery. He created a sensation when he first produced his "Imperial" photographs. These life size, hand-tinted portraits were eagerly sought by the rich and famous. He assumed management of Brady's Washington D.C. studios in 1858, working mostly in portraiture. Joined in Brady's employ by his brother James, he received no credit for his antebellum and early Civil War photography. His famous images of President Lincoln's first inaugural and, later, his shocking views of the dead at Antietam, all bore the back mark "Brady's Album Gallery" or "Brady & Co." It was on his initiative that Brady's corps of photographers and assistants was organized to follow Union troops in the field. As well as making battlefield images, he also took photographs of troops and notables in the field. Frequently Brady sold his images, and those of his other photographers, to illustrated news weeklies. Woodcuts were modeled from them and, in print, credited to Brady. He quit the Brady organization early in 1863, opened a studio at 7th and D streets in Washington D.C., organized his own corps of photographers, personally led them to Gettysburg to photograph the aftermath of that battle, and was briefly detained by Confederate forces on July 5, 1863, when he crossed their path at Emmitsburg, Maryland. All of his photographers received full credit for their work. Talented and vigorous cameraman Timothy O'Sullivan became head of his photographic corps, while he remained in Washington through most of the last months of the war. He is credited with taking the last photo of President Lincoln. He continued his photographic work after the war, shooting the Grand Review, the portraits and executions of the Lincoln murder conspirators, and the execution of Andersonville commandant Henry Wirz. He then published a Photographic Sketch Book of the Civil War, featuring the best of his and his photographers' wartime images. This venture was a commercial failure as Americans were more concerned, with forgetting the Civil War than looking at his views of ruined buildings, shattered bridges and corpse-strewn battlefields. Today, this extremely rare work is hailed as a photographic masterpiece. Still in Washington after the war, he ran a portrait gallery and found a new use for photography. He was the first man to compile a "rogues gallery" for the Washington D.C. police. In 1867 he closed his studio and went West, photographing the developing frontier. Visiting Arizona, then working out of Abilene and Hayes City, Kansas, he produced 150 images of construction on the Union Pacific Railroad for the line's use in engineering and promotion work. Returning East, he was struck by a long, debilitating illness, and died in Washington D.C.

Bio by: Ugaalltheway


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 1 Jan 2001
  • Find A Grave Memorial 2200
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Alexander Gardner (17 Oct 1821–10 Dec 1882), Find A Grave Memorial no. 2200, citing Glenwood Cemetery, Washington, District of Columbia, District Of Columbia, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .