William K. and Edwin P. Kellogg operated a studio at various addresses on Main Street in Hartford, Connecticut, for more than three decades. Just as their portraits of the town’s leading citizens describe the public character of an economically successful area, their photographs of machinery and new industry communicate a reverence for the power of mechanical invention. Photographs such as the one made at the Hartford factory of Woodruff & Beach upon completion of the engine for the USS Kearsargelaunched at Porstmouth, New Hampshire, on September 11, 1861were advertisements for local business as well as patriotic symbols of Union naval prowess in the first months of the Civil War.
A “Screw Steamer,” or “Sloop-of-War,” the Kearsarge went on to glory, sinking the Confederate cruiser Alabama in the harbor of Cherbourg, France, on June 19, 1864. A significant and inspiring victory for the Union Navy, the event won even greater fame after Edouard Manet completed his 1864 painting that depicts the burning Alabama and the triumphant Kearsarge.
Merry A. Foresta American Photographs: The First Century (Washington, D.C.: National Museum of American Art with the Smithsonian Institution Press, 1996)