Anonymous Young Boy, by Alexander Gardner

Young Boy, by Alexander Gardner, Washington DC
Young Boy, by Alexander Gardner, Washington DC

Here’s another portrait by Gardner. Funny thing – Gardner was much more successful in business than Mathew Brady, yet Brady images are far more common than Gardner’s CDVs. I don’t know if it is that he did fewer (certainly seems so) or that his subjects’ heirs are largely holding on to them still. Given the disproportion between his images and Brady’s in the marketplace (not a statistically validated survey, but in my estimation, there’s a 10:1 ratio or more on the Brady:Gardner ratio), I’d say that he just didn’t make that many. This was obviously from his civilian commercial operation, and probably a few years after the Civil War as there is no mention on the back of being “Official Photographer to the Army of the Potomac”. The country as a whole grew war-weary in the aftermath of the war – all aspects of society were changing, and quite radically. Slavery had ended, the agrarian/industrial divide fell heavily in favor of industrialization. Women were a (temporary) presence in the workforce after the death of nearly 700,000 men of working age over four years of truly brutal combat.

With all this change and stress, it’s not a surprise that an association with the US Army that was trumpeted in 1864 would be quickly effaced from advertising copy.

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