BARNARD, George N. (1819-1902)
Orchard Knob from Mission Ridge
. Albumen photograph from a negative taken in 1864 or 1866, 10 5/8 x 14 1/16 inches, on period card mount, 18 x 21 3/4 inches. Captioned in pencil in the lower margin, later label on verso.
A stunning Civil War landscape image by Barnard.
This image was used by Barnard in his Photographic Views of Sherman's Campaign (plate 10), but is here separately printed at a contemporary date in slightly larger format than the image in the book and on a period mount with manuscript caption. The image is among the most iconic from the work, here with wonderful contrast and tone.
" Photographic Views of Sherman's Campaign is a remarkable work of great symbolic, historic, and artistic power. It is a result of a complex interweaving of Barnard's personal vision, nineteenth-century pictorial conventions, and larger ideas about war and the American landscape. The album was the most ambitious project of Barnard's career, and has long been recognized as a landmark in the history of photography" (Davis p.170).
Photographic Views of Sherman's Campaign , embraces scenes of the occupation of Nashville, the great battles around Chattanooga and Lookout Mountain, the campaign of Atlanta, March to the Sea, and the Great Raid through the Carolinas (1866). This album, together with Alexander Gardner's Photographic Sketchbook of the Civil War (1866) are the two greatest photographic monuments of the Civil War. Between them, they contain some of the most famous images of the War.
The present image offers a poignant reminder of the trail of destruction left across the Confederacy by General William T. Sherman's army in 1864 to 1865 during his famous campaign from Nashville to Chattanooga then Atlanta and so to Savannah and the sea, then by-passing Charleston, north to Columbia. In the meantime a smaller force had occupied Charleston and Fort Sumter. To the North, the military campaign was brilliant, bold and decisive - an event worthy of the present monumental album. To the South, it was vicious, bloody and destructive.
Barnard's album would be the first great landscape photobook, "but it is a wounded, brutalized land -- gouged and scarred and broken. Its tone is stoically calm, yet bleak, and is all the more so for being so lucidly understated ... [Barnard] shows himself to have been one of the finest landscape photographers, treating those culturally loaded Civil War sites -- already in the process of becoming mythic when he pictured them -- with respect, but also with a matter-of-factness that is heroic in itself, and served to punctuate the hyperbole of myth" (Parr and Badger).
Keith F. Davis, George N. Barnard Photographer of Sherman's Campaign (Kansas City: 1990); Parr and Badger, The Photobook: A History , vol. I, p. 45.