George S. Cook

Feb 23, 1819 - Nov 27, 1902

George Smith Cook was an early American photographer known as a pioneer in the development of the field. Primarily a studio portrait photographer, he is the first to have taken a photograph of combat during a war: he captured images in 1863 of Union ironclads firing on Fort Moultrie in South Carolina during the Civil War.
For a decade he moved throughout the South and other cities, living for a time in each. He would train students in photography, sell his studio to one, and move on. From 1849, he became skilled in daguerrotype technique after settling in Charleston, South Carolina. He specialized in portrait photography. His first wife died in 1864, and he married again soon after the war.
Cook is known for having amassed a large collection of photographs of figures of the Confederacy and the South, as well as the city of Richmond, Virginia, where he lived from 1880. His sons George LaGrange Cook and Huestis Pratt Cook also became notable photographers, and the younger particularly contributed to the family collection.
George S. and Huestis P. Cook were honored in 1952 with a major exhibition at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, entitled Southern Exposure.
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