Alexander Gardner Eyewitness to History This Week at LiveAuctionTalk.com Rosemary McKittrick’s weekly column is an in depth and insightful narrative about the world of collecting. Visit the site. Sign up for a free weekly subscription.
News-Antique.com - Apr 13,2011 - After Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865 Alexander Gardner photographed some of the key locations involved in the tragedy. Right away he photographed Ford’s Theater where it happened and the swags of black mourning muslin covering the building. Then he moved inside and photographed the interior including the Presidential box where Lincoln was shot.
He captured intricate details in his photos like the tear in the flag that John Wilkes Booth caused when his spur caught the flag as he jumped from Lincoln’s box. He photographed the stables where the assassin kept his horse and the telegraph office from which the world learned of the tragedy.
Gardner and his assistant Timothy O’Sullivan were the only photographers present for the hangings of Lincoln’s conspirators. They set up their camera on a roof overlooking the gallows. Gardner was also there as departing spectators dined on the lemonade and cakes they were served.
In those moments Gardner knew he was an eyewitness to history and understood the importance of documenting the tragedy. His photos are some of the most vivid shots taken of the assassination and the aftermath.
Gardner opened his own gallery in Washington in 1863. He was appointed the official photographer of the Union Pacific Railroad and documented the building of the railroad in Kansas as well as the Native American tribes he met.
On Dec 10, Cowan’s in Cincinnati, Ohio, offered a selection of vintage Gardner photos in its American History Including the Civil War auction.
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