Sepia Memories: Nineteenth-Century Photographs

William Thurston Allen, Women at the Dedication of the Civil War Monument, Leominster, Massachusetts, detail, 1867, Albumen print, Sarah C. Garver Fund, 2008.5

August 30 – November 30, 2008

Since we are all surrounded constantly by photographic images, early photographs are fascinating. The subjects' relationships to the camera are so well known to us. Glimpses of a schooner's deck, a busy street in Canton, and the deserted commons of New England towns reveal worlds long vanished. Some of the earliest photographic landscapes of the Egyptian desert and the jungles of India hang near views of Boston, New York, and Paris. On view are images from the American Civil War, the first conflict to be extensively documented in photographs. Authors were among the celebrities of the era, and the show will include portraits of Walt Whitman and Dorthea Dix. This installation from the Worcester Art Museum collection, created from about 1840 to 1900, transports visitors to times gone by and exotic places. The exhibition includes many of the earliest photographic media, from daguerreotypes and paper prints from calotype negatives, to albumen prints from wet collodion negatives, the photographs that give these images their distinctive sepia hue.

Select Images from the Exhibition