George N. Barnard


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Photographer. Among the earliest photographers to record newsworthy events, he contributed importantly to visual documentation of the Civil War. Born in Coventry, Connecticut, he moved as a child to central New York State and later lived in Nashville and Gallatin, Tennessee. In the early 1840s he returned to upstate New York and within a few years operated a daguerreotype portrait studio in Oswego. When the grain elevators there burned in 1853, Barnard captured the event on full-plate daguerreotypes (George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film, Rochester, New York), which number among the earliest existing examples of photojournalism. Soon after, he moved his business to Syracuse, where he diversified his photographic techniques. In 1859 he moved to New York but also traveled in search of subjects for stereographs. In 1860 he photographed in Cuba, but none of this work is known to survive. The following year Mathew Brady hired him. After the Civil War broke out, he worked in the field and was present at the important battle of Bull Run. Some of these images appear in Alexander Gardner's 1866 Photographic Sketch Book of the War. From 1863 until the end of the war he worked as an official Union army photographer, producing his most significant contribution to the war's coverage while following troops across South Carolina and Georgia in the well-known 1864 march to the sea. Sixty-one large prints of the trail of desolation and destruction of Atlanta appeared in the portfolio Photographic Views of Sherman's Campaign (1866), accompanied by a thirty-page brochure of text and maps. In the later 1860s he worked again in Syracuse, in Charleston, South Carolina, and in Chicago, where his studio was destroyed in the great fire of 1871. Nevertheless, he borrowed a camera to document the conflagration. Later he practiced in several locations, including Rochester, New York, where in the early 1880s he promoted dry-plate technology for George Eastman. He spent his last decade on a farm outside Cedarvale, not far from Syracuse.

Subjects: Art.

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