Lot 121    

One of the Earliest Known Photographs of New Orleans by Jay Dearborn Edwards
6/21/2012 - American History, Including the Civil War
7.375 x 5.75 in. arch-top salt print on a 14 x 11 in. period mount, penciled St. Charles Hotel at lower left, with the printed paper label of J.D. Edwards' Gallery of Photographic Arts affixed to verso.  The scene is dominated by the St. Charles Hotel, with a smaller block of buildings in the right foreground and numerous carriages in the street.  Legible signs and advertisements include City Hat Store, Havana Segars, Reading Rooms, G. Lavie Furnishing Goods, Office of the N.O. & Memphis Packet, and more.

This image is among the earliest known photographic views of New Orleans, one of a few dozen fine city views of antebellum New Orleans made by photographer Jay Dearborn Edwards between 1858 and 1861 (The earliest views were daguerreotypes made in 1839 and 1840, one of which was of the St. Charles Hotel).  Edwards (1831-1900) gained prominence shortly after moving to New Orleans in the late 1850s, capturing images of notable buildings including the construction of the U.S. Custom House.  He was dividing his time between New Orleans and Pensacola, Florida, when the Civil War broke out, and capitalized on the interest in the war by selling Florida war scenes to the Crescent City populace for $1 each.  Edwards' life after the war is somewhat of a mystery, but it is known that he maintained a studio in Virginia following the war and died in Atlanta in 1900. 

In the Historic New Orleans exhibit Nineteenth-Century Photography as Seen through the Works of Jay Dearborn Edwards, John H. Lawrence and Jay Dearborn Edwards (great-grandson of the photographer) observe:

Where Edwards acquired his technical knowledge of the new art of photography is unknown, but when he arrived in the Crescent City he was already producing photographs and by 1860 had established a studio at 19 Royal Street.  At the time, the art of photography was a youthful 20 years old.  Yet it had already undergone transformations its pioneers could not have foreseen....The most important advancement of this period was the development of the wet-plate collodion negative process, allowing for the production and distribution of multiple prints.  Edwards' photographs, made from glass negatives, could theoretically be distributed in number as great as demand required.  This ability made Edwards radically different from earlier photographers in New Orleans.  His views of the city could be widely distributed, allowing for outsiders to see photographic images of New Orleans for the first time.

The dominant building in the image is the second of three incarnations of the St. Charles Hotel, near the intersection of St. Charles and Canal Street downtown.  The original was built in 1837 at a cost of $700,000 and could accommodate up to 1,000 guests, and was considered the grandest structure in the American Quarter, but lasted only 14 years before succumbing to fire.  It was immediately rebuilt in nearly identical form as the first, less the dome, and stood until meeting the same fate as its predecessor in 1894. 



Condition:  
Image with very minor soiling, else very fine.  Mount lightly foxed, with chipped corners and old adhesive remnants along top edge.
Sold: $0.00
Price includes
Buyer's Premium
      Ask a Question

All Images

ITEMS 1-12 of 366
SKIP TO PAGE:
Lot #1 - Revolutionary War Veterans CDVs
> Item Details

EST $1,000.00-$1,500.00

Lot #2 - Battle of the Nile, 1798, Poster
> Item Details

EST $600.00-$800.00

Lot #4 - Mexican War Sash Worn by William Rhodes Reynolds, Plus Post-War CDV
> Item Details

EST $800.00-$1,000.00

Lot #5 - Committee On Elections, 34th Congress, 1856, Fine Pre-Civil War Salted Paper Photograph
> Item Details

EST $2,000.00-$3,000.00

Lot #6 - Armed Confederate Private, Half Plate Ambrotype
> Item Details

EST $5,500.00-$6,500.00

Lot #8 - Armed Texan with Rare Star Belt Plate, Civil War Sixth Plate Ambrotype
> Item Details

EST $2,000.00-$3,000.00

Lot #9 - Armed Confederate 2nd Lieutenant, Sixth Plate Ambrotype
> Item Details

EST $2,500.00-$3,500.00

Lot #10 - Confederate Lieutenant Samuel Rice, 27th Virginia Infantry, Sixth Plate Ambrotype, Plus
> Item Details

EST $1,500.00-$2,500.00

Lot #13 - Confederate John J. Burroughs, 6th Virginia & 34th Tennessee Infantries, Ambrotype, Plus
> Item Details

EST $800.00-$1,200.00

ITEMS 1-12 of 366
SKIP TO PAGE: