Mathew BradyMary Panzer

In the 1860s and 70s, Mathew Brady (1823-96) made a fortune in the United States taking portrait photographs of the nation's rich and famous. They would literally queue up to have their portraits taken and hung in what he called his 'National Portrait Gallery', which became a major tourist destination at the time. With the outbreak of the Civil War, Brady - never one to miss a business opportunity - dispatched teams of photographers to record generals and soldiers as well as the scenes of battle themselves. His image of the battlefield at Antietam - in actual fact taken by Alexander Gardner, one of Brady's 'technicians' - was one of the first images to show the harsh reality of war.

Photography is the visual medium of the modern world. It pervades our lives and shapes our perceptions. 55 is an ongoing series of beautifully produced, pocket-sized books that explore all aspects and styles of photography. They celebrate the world's most important photographers from the spheres of art, photojournalism, science, street photography, fashion photography and travel photography.

Each volume of 128 pages focuses on an individual master's life work and its development. It features 55 of their key works presented chronologically with an accessible introduction and critical commentaries, telling both the photographer's story and the story of the world that shaped their views.

At specially low prices, 55 paperbacks offer an irresistible look at modern life from some of the greatest ever photographers.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Size: 156 × 136 mm (6 1/8 × 5 3/8 in)
  • Pages: 128 pp
  • Illustrations: 55 illustrations
  • ISBN: 9780714840659

Mary Panzer is a historian with a special interest in American photographs. She was Curator of Photographs at the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, from 1992 to 2000.

'Elegantly designed, beautifully printed ... and sensitively laid out ... the choice of images is irreproachable ... Even if the series were to stop dead right now, it would already merit an honourable mention in publishing history ... the temptation to keep on collecting the whole set will no doubt afflict many.' (Independent)

'Phaidon 55s are handsome, pocket-sized editions with - you guessed it - 55 key works of one of the 20th century's iconic photographers. And because they cost just £4.95, the idea is you can take them - and even leave them - anywhere: on the table in the coffee shop, or poking suggestively out of your corduroy jacket pocket.' (Financial Times)

'The books are aimed beyond the 'photography buff' to a wider audience. Photography fans won't be disappointed, though: each book contains 55 images, so there's space to include lesser-known gems among the classic.' (Independent on Sunday)