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Historical Photographs: Windows into the Past

Timothy H. O'Sullivan | A Harvest of Death, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania | 2005.100.1201

Timothy H. O'Sullivan (American, born Ireland, 1840–1882). A Harvest of Death, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, July 1863. Albumen silver print from glass negative; 7 x 8 7/8 in. (17.8 x 22.5 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gilman Collection, Museum Purchase, 2005 (2005.100.1201)

Photographs play an important role in history by documenting moments in time. When people look at historical photographs, they are able to peer into worlds they previously could only imagine.

Timothy H. O'Sullivan's photograph A Harvest of Death, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania—currently on view in the exhibition Photography and the American Civil War—depicts a field in the summertime with several dead soldiers in the foreground. The men's turned-out pockets and missing shoes suggest that they were robbed postmortem. In the background, there is a man on horseback who is actually the photographer's assistant. I find this photograph interesting because the composition makes me feel as though I am standing in the field.

Come visit the exhibition to see more photographs taken during the Civil War.

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