Mathew Brady is known as one of the brightest and most innovative photographers of American history, he was ahead of his time. His most treasured work, although not at the time of creation, was the iconic Presidential Portraits.
This collection of nearly every president of Brady’s time is viewed as a glimpse into the past. The list of presidents who sat for the intrepid photographer reads like a who’s who list.
His photography has won awards from as far away as France and brought Brady fame and fortune.
Born in 1822 in Lake George, New York, Mathew Brady was the son of Irish immigrant parents. Hard working and diligent, the family taught Brady so much in terms of devoting oneself to his work.
With the outbreak of the Civil War, Brady came up with the idea to use multiple photographers in which to shoot pictures of the war. This cost him around $100,000 and unbelievably netted him very little in return on investment.
His work entitled “The Photographic History of the Civil War”, is deemed a work of art not only for the quality of Civil War photographs he took but for the imprint it gives educators today. If a picture is worth a thousand words than Brady has been speaking from the grave.
Now there was no reason to doubt what the photographer was showing the people of America in pictures but in that time written words were up to perception by the author. Brady dodged that messy situation by taking pictures of actual battles, from start to finish.
No war had ever been so carefully chronicled as The Civil War was through Brady’s lens. The ten-volume work took 7 years to put together and almost all of Brady’s money was used in developing it.
Brady took pictures of every President that held office in his lifetime except one, William Henry Harrison. President Harrison unfortunately passed away a month after his inauguration and could not be photographed alive.
Brady’s fame lasted over 50 years but as he grew older his flame burned out. Younger more technically open photographers replaced him in stature and appreciation and in the winter of 1896 he died. When he died Mathew Brady had lost almost everything he had worked so hard for in this life. If it were not for close friends Brady would have been buried in the Potters Graveyard that is usually reserved for the indigent in New York City.