The exact age and birthplace of Mathew Brady is unknown however his birth can be estimated to be around 1823.
At age 16, around 1838 Mathew Brady came to New York. While working as a clerk in a department store he began making and selling jewerly cases.
After the announcement of the discovery of photography in 1839, Brady began to study photography, which would take him into his 20's. Brady"s studies included lessons from America's first photographers Samuel F. B. Morse and John Draper.
In 1844 Brady owned his own photography gallery in New York. He was still making Jewerly cases and also now daguerreotype cases, in addition to his photography. His fame began when he started to take portraits of famous Americans which he called "The Gallery of Illustrious Americans". Important portratis included preidents movie stars and celebrated Americans, including his most famous of portrait of Abraham Lincoln.
In 1858, he opened a studio in Washington, D.C., to photograph the nation's leaders and foreign dignitaries.
In 1861 With the outbreak of the civil war, Brady received permission from President Lincoln to photograph the battlefield. He hired a team of photographers to capture and record the events. This was probably his greatest achievement. Brady recorded not only the soldiers, and the fight but also the consequence of war, battlefield corpses . Sales were good during the war, but after the public found little interest in reminders of the war. Brady after investing a large sum of money into the effort found himself in bankruptcy.
In 1875 the US congress purchased the entire archive of civil war negatives from Bady for $25,000.
On January 16, 1896 Brady died.
Note: The Photo of the Historic Mathew Brady Studio Camera, circa early 1860, was sold by Heritage Auctions on Nov 30, 2011 for an amazing $65,725 plus commission.
The top picture is c.1862. National Photographic Portrait Galleries, located at Broadway and Tenth, New York. Wikimedia Commons images
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