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Product ID:  9780917860522
Category:  History
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A Closer Look: The Antebellum Photographs of Jay Dearborn Edwards, 1858-1861
J.D. Edwards

From October 1, 2008, through February 20, 2009, The Historic New Orleans Collection presents an exhibition of the earliest-known paper photographs of New Orleans in The Collection's Williams Gallery at 533 Royal Street. A full-color catalogue accompanying the exhibition,A Closer Look: The Antebellum Photographs of Jay Dearborn Edwards, 1858 1861, features three dozen images of a thriving southern city on the brink of the Civil War. The exhibition catalogue focuses on the work of Jay Dearborn Edwards, a New Hampshire native who established a photography business on Royal Street around 1858 and captured an array of cityscapes. Some of [Edwards's] photographs show the construction of the United States Custom House in New Orleans, as well as public and private buildings around town, and the activity along the riverfront, said John H. Lawrence, co-curator and director of museum programs at THNOC. Those who know New Orleans will see a familiar city presented in an unfamiliar way. Places that resonate today with both locals and visitors such as Canal Street, the Mississippi riverfront, the Garden District take on a different aspect when viewed through the lens of the past. In addition to showcasing images of the city's developing residential neighborhoods, thriving business district, and changing trends in architecture, the catalogue also encourages visitors to take a closer look by pairing the photographs with items from The Collection's holdings. The pairings invite visitors to reflect on how New Orleans has changed and yet, in many ways, remained the same. A Closer Look uses Edwards's photographs of New Orleans as a springboard for looking at history and historical objects beyond the photographs themselves, Lawrence said. The series of pictures is compelling on its own as a glimpse of antebellum New Orleans, but because looking at photographs always seems to raise other questions, the curators have chosen additional items from The Collection's holdings to associate with each image. The arrangement of objects and images also illustrates society's evolving interest in photography, exploring how photographers' subjects have changed over time, what photography attempts to preserve, and how photographic technologies have advanced.