Mathilde Deslonde Slidell


Mathilde Deslonde Slidell (1815–70) was born into a distinguished French family in New Orleans, Louisiana. She married John Slidell, a United States senator and a Confederate diplomat, in 1835. John Slidell is best remembered for his involvement in the Trent affair, which nearly caused war to break out between the United States and Great Britain. Slidell and James Murray Mason were Confederate emissaries who were on their way to France in late 1861 on the British ship Trent. A Union ship, the San Jacinto, intercepted the Trent and returned the men to Boston Harbor, where they were imprisoned. They were allowed to continue to Europe after the British threatened war over this act against a British ship on the high seas. Mrs. Slidell was with her husband on this voyage. After the Civil War the Slidells remained in Europe. The image is from an album of mostly Civil War-era portraits by the famous American photographer Matthew Brady (circa 1823‒96) that belonged to Emperor Pedro II of Brazil (1825‒91), a collector of photography as well as a photographer himself. The album was a gift to the emperor from Edward Anthony (1818‒88), another early American photographer who, in partnership with his brother, owned a company that in the 1850s became the leading seller of photographic supplies in the United States. Dom Pedro may have acquired the album during a trip to the United States in 1876 when he, along with President Ulysses S. Grant, opened the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. Brady was born in upstate New York, the son of immigrants from Ireland. Best known for his photographs documenting the battles of the American Civil War, he began his career in 1844 when he opened a daguerreotype portrait studio at the corner of Broadway and Fulton Streets in New York City. Over the course of the next several decades, Brady produced portraits of leading American public figures, many of which were published as engravings in magazines and newspapers. In 1858 he opened a branch in Washington, DC. The album, which also contains a small number of non-photographic prints, is part of the Thereza Christina Maria Collection at the National Library of Brazil. The collection is composed of 21,742 photos assembled by Emperor Pedro II throughout his life and donated by him to the national library. The collection covers a wide variety of subjects. It documents the achievements of Brazil and Brazilians in the 19th century and also includes many photographs of Europe, Africa, and North America.

Last updated: January 8, 2018