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The Mom Tapes (excerpt), by Ilene Segalove

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Terre-plein off the Gorge, Fort Sumter

Attributed to Alma A. Pelot (American, active Charleston, South Carolina, 1850s–1860s)

Date:
April 15, 1861
Medium:
Albumen silver print from glass negative
Dimensions:
Image: 13.5 x 18.6 cm (5 5/16 x 7 5/16 in.)
Classification:
Photographs
Credit Line:
New-York Historical Society Library, Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections
  • Description

    Perhaps the most dramatic of the war’s first photographic views is this study of armed Confederate soldiers and top-hatted civilians celebrating the South’s victory by draping themselves over the huge pivot guns that Confederate Brigadier General Pierre G. T. Beauregard had silenced at Fort Sumter. Given that Alma Pelot was a young studio portraitist with little field experience, these modest-size prints with their rounded corners and mature balance of architectural description and human incident are extraordinary. Collectively they reveal a natural understanding of the historical moment, a graphic appreciation for the harsh beauty of a ruin, and an eye for the symbolic.

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