Today in January Magazine’s art & culture section, contributing editor Aaron Blanton reviews New Orleans 1867 by Gary A. Van Zante. Says Blanton:
In 1867, two years after the end of the American Civil War, New Orleans photographer Theodore Lilienthal (1829-1894) was given an important assignment. Under orders from the city’s politicians and top business people, and with a desire for boosterism and image-building during the time of Reconstruction -- the German-born Lilienthal was paid 2000 dollars -- an enormous sum in post-war New Orleans -- to undertake a 12 week photographic project. The final portfolio was known as La Nouvelle Orléans et ses environs and included 150 photographs and 50 stereoscopic views of the city, which Lilienthal showed in late May of that year in his Poydras Street studio.The full review is here.
Lilienthal’s portfolio of New Orleans images became the first municipally sponsored photographic survey of an American city. In New Orleans 1867, Gary A. Van Zante, MIT curator of architecture and design, collects the 126 surviving images from the portfolio, studies them and places them within the various historical contexts of the Civil War, civic planning and this important -- often beleaguered -- city itself.