Museum to host Civil War photography program

Nov. 09, 2012 @ 01:55 PM

The High Point Museum Guild will acknowledge the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam – also known as the Battle of Sharpsburg – with a special program set for Wednesday morning at the museum.
Civil War photo authority Bob Zeller, of Trinity, will present a slide show featuring the stereographs of this battlefield taken by photographer Alexander Gardner after the bloody battle of Sept. 17, 1862. Wearing 3-D glasses, viewers will feel as if they can walk right into these stark and graphic battlefield scenes, Zeller promises. This unique 3-D presentation spotlights one of the most significant and famous episodes in the history of photography.
Gardner’s Antietam images, showing many of the dead as they fell on the field, comprise the first significant series in American war photojournalism. When they were displayed at Mathew Brady’s New York gallery three weeks after the battle, the images electrified the city.
“If Brady has not brought bodies and laid them in our dooryards and along the streets, he has done something very like it,” The New York Times reported.
All 20 of Gardner’s death studies at Antietam were taken with a stereoscopic camera and were meant to be seen in 3-D. In this 35-minute show, Zeller will lay the groundwork for Gardner’s camera work at Antietam by showing how 3-D photographers chased the action from the very beginning at Fort Sumter.
The show will feature many of the 77 stereographs Gardner took. Among them are some of the most famous and recognizable images of the war, including the image of President Lincoln meeting with Gen. George McClellan in McClellan’s tent. Viewers also will see rare postwar 3-D views of the battlefield that show the dedication of the Antietam National Cemetery.
Zeller, one of the leading collectors of Civil War photography, is president and co-founder of the Center for Civil War Photography. He has authored four books on Civil War photography, three of them in 3-D. His latest book, co-authored with John J. Richter, is “Lincoln in 3-D.”
Zeller’s particular specialty in Civil War photography collecting are the photographs of Antietam. He owns the largest known collection of original photographic prints taken by Gardner at Antietam. His family has deep roots in Antietam and Washington County, Md., and owns property overlooking the battlefield.
Admission to Zeller’s program is free.