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Studying the Art of War, Fairfax Court-House, [Virginia]

Alexander Gardner (American, Glasgow, Scotland 1821–1882 Washington, D.C.)

June 1863
Albumen silver print from glass negative
Image: 17.4 x 22.4 cm (6 7/8 x 8 13/16 in.)
Credit Line:
Photography Collection, Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations
  • Description

    Under perfect atmospheric conditions and with receptive subjects, Gardner was able to harness the medium as a means of field portraiture, a tool that could memorialize—just as it did in a studio setting—the weary and the fresh, the snap and the pull of uniforms and accouterments, and the characteristic body language of men at war. Without a trace of irony, Major D. S. Ludlow (sitting on the ground) holds for the camera a copy of the 1862 translation of The Art of War, Antoine-Henri Jomini’s definitive treatise on warfare and military strategy, used as a standard reference by both Union and Confederate generals. Military historians today believe that Baron de Jomini’s outdated theories led to massive casualties during the Civil War.