Unknown, 2nd Regiment, United States Colored Light Artillery, Battery A: Ready, ca. 1864, Albumen silver print, dimensions not given, collection of Julia J. Norrell

Shadows of History: Photographs of the Civil War

September 19, 2015 – January 3, 2016

The American Civil War was one of the first conflicts to be extensively documented by photography. The public had never before seen such powerful images of human devastation and the destructive impact of war. Inspired by the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, the Corcoran presents this focused collection developed in recent years by Washington collector Julia (“Judy”) Norrell. The photographs capture a wide range of subjects, from geographical views, landscapes, and portraits of soldiers and officers at rest, to the death and destruction in the aftermath of battles. Photographs by George Barnard, Issac H. Bonsall, Matthew Brady, Alexander Gardner, James F. Gibson, Frederick F. Gutekunst, Timothy H. O’Sullivan, Andrew J. Russell, D. B. Woodbury, and others, are included. A special emphasis of the collection is rare imagery of African American regiments and their underappreciated role in the war. In addition, to strengthen the presentation of the role of African Americans in the Civil War, a major tableau by Whitfield Lovell is included. It features a life-size portrait of an African American soldier.