The striking photographs of Clover Adams, wife of historian and writer Henry Adams, capture iconic moments of Gilded Age Boston and Washington, D.C., while also opening pathways to her long-concealed inner life. Her photographs tell a story—her story. This exhibition features many of Clover's images, some of which have not been shown publicly, along with her letters, the notebook she used to record the technical aspects of her photographs, Henry's letters, and other family materials.
At the heart of Clover’s story is a mystery: just when she found a powerful way through photography to document her life, it started to unravel. On a gloomy Sunday morning in December 1885, Clover committed suicide by drinking from a vial of potassium cyanide, a chemical used to develop photographs. Henry Adams commissioned a bronze statue by Augustus Saint-Gaudens to mark his wife’s grave in Washington’s Rock Creek Cemetery. But he rarely spoke of her and never mentioned her in his Pulitzer prize-winning The Education of Henry Adams.
What got lost—until now—was the remarkable story of how Clover, in the last years of her life, discovered with her camera an eloquent means with which to express herself.