[Woman Holding Cased Portraits of Civil War Soldiers]
8.3 x 7 x 1.3 cm (3 1/4 x 2 3/4 x 1/2 in.)
Jane Van N. Turano-Thompson Collection
Not on view
Throughout the four-year war, photography studios in the North and the South accommodated a wounded populace seeking solace and an escape from the psychic threat caused by the turmoil of the times and the instability of the culture. What is uncertain is whether the desire to sit for a portrait was driven primarily by the hope that the little photograph might help the subject and family survive the war or by the fear that the sitters and their relatives would not live through the next battle. Regardless, the belief in the power of the photographic image during this period is astounding and comes across in the faces of privates and officers alike, Confederates and Unionists, men and women. Here, in a sixth-plate tintype, a young woman physically embraces a pair of quarter-plate soldier portraits—silver likenesses of her loved ones who may never come home.