Saturday, January 4, 2014

Meade Brothers: Pioneers in American Photography

Where: National Portrait Gallery

When: through June 1, 2014

A very happy 2014 to all reading this blog.  I hope the year brings you many good things, and many opportunities to see great museum exhibits.

I started the year off by going to the Portrait Gallery to see two small shows, the first of which is this survey of the work of the Meade Brothers.  The Meades were leading members of the first generation of American photographers.  Born in London, they set up their first photography studio in Albany, NY in 1842.  They garnered an international reputation by traveling to Europe to display their works and obtain further commissions. In 1850, they opened a gallery in New York City, where they attracted famous clients and won several awards for excellence.  They were so successful that they purchased a stone for the Washington Monument, when it was under construction.  When the renovations are complete and the monument is open again, I'm going to make a trip over there to see their stone.

Sadly, they had tragic ends: Charles, the younger brother, died of tuberculosis in 1858, when he was only in his 30s.  Henry, the older brother, carried on the business, with the help of their sister, Mary Ann, who became the director in 1862, but eventually, new technology caused the business to go into decline and he committed suicide in 1865.

Verdict: A small show in the low-light niche were they often display old photographs (I'm guessing due to concerns about damage from bright lighting).  Easily manageable in a lunch hour, and it's easy to combine this with either the One Life exhibit on Martin Luther King, or the Archives of American Art show on holiday cards.

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