Col­lege un­veils rare photo it bought of Lin­coln in­au­gu­ral

San Francisco Chronicle Late Edition - - NATION -

BRUNSWICK, Maine — A Maine col­lege un­veiled a rare pho­to­graph of Pres­i­dent Abra­ham Lin­coln’s in­au­gu­ra­tion from 1861.

The Bow­doin Col­lege Mu­seum of Art in Brunswick ac­quired the photo at auc­tion in Oc­to­ber and un­veiled it Thurs­day.

It’s the first in­au­gu­ra­tion to be cap­tured by pho­tog­ra­phers and took place just six weeks be­fore the start of the Civil War.

It mostly shows the backs of spec­ta­tors, who face the Capi­tol steps, and a large wooden canopy, un­der which the pro­ceed­ings oc­cur. It’s im­pos­si­ble to dis­cern spe­cific fig­ures. His­to­ri­ans have stud­ied the im­age for decades but can’t iden­tify Lin­coln.

The im­age is be­lieved to have been taken by Alexan­der Gard­ner, who was born in Scot­land and came to the United States in the 1850s. He was a pho­tog­ra­pher in Mathew Brady’s Wash­ing­ton stu­dio. Brady is best known for his Civil War pho­tos.

The in­au­gu­ra­tion photo is one of only three known copies. The oth­ers are in the Li­brary of Congress and the Smith­so­nian In­sti­tu­tion.

Alexan­der Gard­ner 1861

This March 4, 1861, photo doc­u­ments the first pres­i­den­tial in­au­gu­ra­tion cap­tured by a pho­tog­ra­pher.

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