New Bridge over Potomac River. On the Washington, Alexandria and Georgetown Railroad. Total length 5,104 feet.

Object Details

Title:

New Bridge over Potomac River. On the Washington, Alexandria and Georgetown Railroad. Total length 5,104 feet.

Artist/Maker(s):

A.J. Russell (American, 1830 - 1902)

Culture:

American

Date:

July 1864

Medium:

Albumen silver print

Dimensions:

20.5 x 33 cm (8 1/16 x 13 in.)

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In 1863 Andrew Joseph Russell became the first member of the Union army officially assigned to photograph the Civil War. Unlike Mathew Brady's images of battlefields, most of Russell's photographs document engineering achievements. Russell worked in the U.S. Military Railroad Construction Corps under the direction of the engineer General Herman Haupt, photographing Haupt's numerous accomplishments in the construction and destruction of roads, railroad tracks, and bridges.

Though Russell intended simply to create a record of bridge construction, he did not limit himself to a mundane treatment of the subject. The two halves of the bridge frame the empty water between them like perfect perspectival lines, receding into the distance across the wide Potomac River.

Exhibitions
The American Tradition and Walker Evans (July 10 to October 28, 2001)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), July 10 to October 28, 2001