© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
Mathew B. Brady & Studio, American (Warren County, New York active 1844 - 1895 New York, New York)
Sarah Stevenson Harrison (wife of Gabriel Harrison) and her children
Work Type
c. 1857
Creation Place: North America, United States
Physical Descriptions
Salted paper print
image: 30.6 x 35.4 cm (12 1/16 x 13 15/16 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • inscription: verso, upper center, graphite: Mrs. Gabe Harrison and children
  • inscription: verso, center, graphite: Mrs. Gabe Harrison + children
Harvard College Library, Cambridge, MA, bequest of Evert Jansen Wendell, 1918, on deposit at the Fogg Art Museum.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Transfer from Special Collections, Fine Arts Library, Harvard College Library, Bequest of Evert Jansen Wendell
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art
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Label Text: 32Q: 2100 19th Century , written 2015
Although perhaps best remembered for his extensive documentation of the Civil War, Mathew Brady established the most important commercial portrait photography studio in mid-19th-century America. He employed a host of camera operators, processors, and studio artists to create sophisticated portraits based on compositional devices and lighting strategies adopted from earlier portraiture traditions in both painting and photography. Brady posed his sitters in attitudes and with props carefully orchestrated to invoke their occupation and social standing.

By the mid-1850s, Brady was able to employ new photographic technologies that allowed him to move beyond the small-scale daguerreotype format. Here, Sarah Stevenson and her children each inhabit individuated space, and at the same time are gracefully arrayed as a family. Photographs like this one challenged the long-established tradition of painted portraits. In 1857, Harper’s Weekly noted that photography was as essential to the portraitist as “a pallet [sic] and an easel.”

Exhibition History

Seeing Is Believing: A History of Photography, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 09/04/2012 - 01/19/2013

32Q: 2100 19th Century, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 09/17/2015 - 01/13/2016

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of European and American Art at am_europeanamerican@harvard.edu