On the 180th anniversary of photography’s introduction to the world in 1839, an exhibition of some 140 photographs offers an in-depth look at the development of the medium throughout its first 50 years. The Eye of the Sun draws from the Gallery’s rich holdings of 19th-century photographs and features many works which have not been on view previously, including several photographs recently acquired from Charles Isaacs and Carol Nigro.

The exhibition is organized chronologically and thematically, beginning with the earliest photographs in the collection by one of photography’s inventors, William Henry Fox Talbot, and several examples of daguerreotypes, and ending with photographs made in 1889 by the Kodak, the first snapshot camera. Sections focus on themes of portraiture and self-presentation; landscape; the built environment; travel abroad and on the frontier; war; and photography and art. Among the photographers featured are Hill and Adamson, Mary Dillwyn, Roger Fenton, Francis Frith, Lewis Carroll, Julia Margaret Cameron, Gustave Le Gray, Charles Marville, Charles Nègre, Édouard-Denis Baldus, Andrew Joseph Russell, Carleton E. Watkins, Eadweard Muybridge, and John Moran.

The exhibition is curated by Diane Waggoner, curator of 19th-century photographs, with Kara Fiedorek, Andrew W. Mellon Post-Doctoral Curatorial Fellow, both National Gallery of Art, Washington.