June 1989: 19th-Century Photographs of New York by George Brainerd and Breading Way, an exhibition of 23 photographs of 19th-century New York by two photographers affiliated with The Brooklyn Museum, George Brainerd (1845-1887) and Breading G. Way (d. 1940), opened at The Brooklyn Museum June 30. The works, dating from the late 19th century, depict the changing city in that era, and serve not only as historical documents but also as creative personal visions. The exhibition will be on view in the Prints and Drawings Galleries, located on the second floor, through October 2, 1989.
George Brainerd’s interest in the machinery of photography led him to invent several cameras with which he photographed Long Island, Manhattan and Brooklyn in the midst of growth and industrialization. His records of the harsher realities of shanty towns, obsolete characters such as the soap-fat man, and the elegant promenades in Central Park depict life in New York City and Brooklyn with a silent profundity.
Breading Way also addressed new phenomena of New York such as the fascination with the beach as a place of leisure. Delicate figures clothed in black suits and carrying parasols dot the stark white beach, recalling paintings by such early Impressionist artists as Eugène Boudin. In another view, East River Bridge conveys the 19th century’s initial wonder over the sleek steel feats of technology.
This exhibition, selected and organized by Karyn Zieve, Assistant Curator in the Museum’s Prints and Drawings Department, has been arranged in conjunction with the exhibition Selected Photographs at The Brooklyn Museum. Together they serve as a commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the birth of photography.
Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1989 - 1994. 1989, 096-97.