Mathew Brady Memorial Dedication Sept. 17 in DC
This year marks the 200th anniversary of renowned photographer Mathew Brady’s birthday. On Saturday, September 17, historian and longtime Daguerreian Society member Larry West will unveil a new Memorial to Brady that he spearheaded at Historic Congressional Cemetery (HCC) in Washington, DC.
All Society members are invited to attend the dedication ceremony from 2–4 pm at HCC, which is only a few miles from the original Brady Gallery of Washington. The event is free and will feature remarks by four American history experts:
- Grant Romer, a world authority on early photography and former Conservator of Photography at the George Eastman House
- Cliff Krainik, a historian, appraiser, dealer of 19th-century photography, and coauthor of Union Cases: A Collector's Guide to the Art of America's First Plastics
- David Kent, President of the Lincoln Group of the District of Columbia, dedicated to the study of the 16th U.S. President
- Larry West, a world-class collector who made headlines last year after selling an extraordinary set of works by primarily African American photographers (especially daguerreotypists) to the Smithsonian American Art Museum
Complimentary hors d’oeuvres will be served. Alcohol will be available for purchase. In addition, attendees of all ages will be able to interact with a hands-on display of daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, tintypes, porcelains, and paper prints, some of which were made and marketed by Brady’s New York and Washington Galleries.
“It's a once-in-a-lifetime event and free!” said Larry. “The speakers will talk for around seven minutes each. Three of them, including myself, are longtime Daguerreian Society members. I expect a number of other members from the DC area and elsewhere will be here too, so it's a great opportunity to meet and catch up in person.”
After remarks and light refreshments, visitors will be welcome to tour the 35-acre grounds – home to numerous other famous residents including photographer Levin Handy, a nephew and former apprentice of Brady, who was an important daguerreotypist and image maker in his own right at the Library of Congress; J. Edgar Hoover, first Director of the FBI; and composer and conductor John Philip Sousa.
The four speakers will walk the grounds and randomly hand out 40 Frederick Douglass collectible quarters from the U.S. Mint. The coin features Cedar Hill, the Washington D.C. home of Frederick and Anna Douglass.
Known as the Father of Photojournalism, Brady stands as one of the most accomplished and celebrated photographers in American history. He was among the first to take an artistic approach to photography, blending the science of daguerreotyping with a creative approach to lighting, framing, and composition.
The Mathew Brady Memorial, erected in the very shadow of Brady's own gravesite at HCC, will celebrate Brady’s outstanding achievements but also reflect the diversity of his subjects and the Washington community. The memorial consists of life-sized bronze statues of President Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, along with a life-sized porcelain photo of Brady, made during the war, with a replica of his camera in bronze.
The memorial will also focus on many of the highly contributing women of the day – black, white, and biracial – including Anna Douglass, Frederick's wife, as a stationmaster on the Underground Railroad in Rochester, N.Y. Congressional Cemetery is a national historic site and member of the National Park Service Network to Freedom group, because of its relationship to the Underground Railroad.
Visitors will be encouraged to pose for their own photos at the memorial, which utilizes images for storytelling across African American history and achievement. There will also be a state-of-the-art image wall with over 86 images in fired porcelain by Italian artisans.
"The ultimate objective here is to motivate young and school group visitors to think about the intersection of history, photography, and diversity and use their cell phone cameras across the posing and storytelling features of the memorial," explained Larry. "It is set to be an educational, photo-intensive experience."
Dr. Robert Drapkin, a major photography collector, writer, and historian who is also a longtime DS member, worked with Larry on the project, providing key support.
Tickets are not required for entry, but the cemetery asks that you please RSVP.