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Art/ Collection/ Art Object

[Boston from a Hot-Air Balloon]

Artist:
James Wallace Black (American, 1825–1896)
Date:
1860s
Medium:
Albumen silver print from glass negative
Dimensions:
25.6 x 20.2 cm. (10 1/16 x 7 15/16 in.)
Classification:
Photographs
Credit Line:
Robert O. Dougan Collection, Gift of Warner Communications Inc., 1981
Accession Number:
1981.1229.4
Not on view
Two years after the French photographer Nadar conducted his earliest experiments in balloon flight, the Boston photographer James Wallace Black ascended over the city to make the first successful aerial photographs in America. He flew on Samuel King's hot-air balloon, the "Queen of the Air," and exposed several glass-plate negatives, including this extraordinary, if imperfect, view-as much lunar landscape as "Beantown." Almost immediately, aerial photography would be put to use by the Union Army. By 1862, President Abraham Lincoln appointed a civilian Balloon Corps to serve under the Bureau of Topographical Engineers to spy from the skies on Confederate troops during the Peninsular Campaign in Virginia.
Robert O. Dougan

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Counterparts: Form and Emotion in Photographs," February 26, 1982–May 1, 1982.

Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati. "Counterparts: Form and Emotion in Photographs," May 20, 1982–July 2, 1982.

Dallas Museum of Art. "Counterparts: Form and Emotion in Photographs," August 4, 1982–September 13, 1982.

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. "Counterparts: Form and Emotion in Photographs," November 19, 1982–January 9, 1983.

Corcoran Gallery of Art. "Counterparts: Form and Emotion in Photographs," February 22, 1983–April 18, 1983.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Drawings, Prints, and Photographs: A Selection," February 20, 1990–May 27, 1990.

Fort Worth, Tex. Amon Carter Museum of American Art. "Photography in Nineteenth Century America," October 26, 1991–January 5, 1992.

Amherst, Mass. Mead Art Museum, Amherst College. "Photography in Nineteenth Century America," February 1, 1992–March 29, 1992.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Beyond the Edges: An Insider's Look at Early Photographs," October 9, 1998–February 14, 1999.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Old Faces and Places: American Photographs, 1845-1870," February 3, 2004–April 25, 2004.

Robinson, William F. A Certain Slant of Light: The First Hundred Years of New England Photography. Boston: New York Graphic Society, 1980. p. 59.

Naef, Weston J. Counterparts: Form and Emotion in Photographs. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1982. no. 16.

Pierce, Sally. Whipple and Black: Commercial Photographers in Boston. Boston: Boston Athenaeum, 1987. pp. 28–29.



Negative date: October 13, 1860
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