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Civil War Collage

A work made of photocollage (albumen prints).
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of photocollage (albumen prints).


c. 1860/70


Maker unknown

About this artwork

Around the time of the Civil War, cartes de visite—small, inexpensive studio portraits—became extremely popular among middle-class Americans. Cartes were traded, kept in albums, and occasionally cut and pasted to form personalized collages. This is an unusual example of a portrait collage in that it implies a family tree, with layers of photographs clustered at the bottom and hierarchical rows at the top. It is possible that the composition focuses on a Union soldier, his commanding officers, and his family. If so, the work represents a transition from textual record keeping, such as lists of births and deaths, to a new visual narrative of family history, whether kept in an album or framed on the wall.


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Photography and Media




Civil War Collage

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

Made 1855–1875


Photocollage (albumen prints)


Image/ paper: 33.4 × 30.7 cm (13 3/16 × 12 1/8 in.)

Credit Line

Ernest N. Kahn Photography Fund

Reference Number


IIIF Manifest  The International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) represents a set of open standards that enables rich access to digital media from libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural institutions around the world.

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Extended information about this artwork

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