Portraits of a People: Picturing African Americans in the Nineteenth Century
Recently, a number of cutting edge African American artists have investigated issues of race and American identity in their work, relying on the use of historical source material and the subversion of archaic media. This scrutiny of little known, yet uncannily familiar, racialized imagery by contemporary artists has created a renewed interest in the politics of nineteenth-century American art and the role of race in the visual discourse. Portraits of a People looks critically at images made of and by African Americans, extending back to the late 1700s when a portrait of African-born poet Phillis Wheatley was drawn by her friend, the slave Scipio Moorhead.
From the American Revolution until the Civil War and on into the Gilded Age, American artists created dynamic images of black sitters. In their effort to create enduring symbols of self-possessed identity, many of these portraits provide a window into cultural stereotypes and practices. For example, while some of these pictures were undoubtedly of distinct, named individuals, many are now known by titles that reference only generalized types, such as Joshua Johnston's painting Portrait of a Man, c. 1805–10, or the silhouette inscribed "Mr. Shaw's blackman," cut around 1802 by the manumitted slave Moses Williams. By the middle of the nineteenth century, photography began to offer black sitters an affordable and accessible way to fashion an individual identity and sometimes obtain financial support, as in the case of the numerous cartes-de-visites produced during the 1860s and '70s that bear the image of the feminist activist Sojourner Truth above the text, "I Sell the Shadow to Support the Substance."
Portraits of a People features colour reproductions of over 100 important portraits in various media, ranging from paintings, photographs, and silhouettes to book frontispieces and popular prints. Essays by Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw consider silhouettes and African American identity in the early republic, photography and the black presence in the public sphere after the Civil War, and portrait painting and social fluidity among middle-class African American artists and sitters. This landmark publication will change the way that we view the images of blacks in the nineteenth century.
12 pages matching public sphere in this book
Results 1-3 of 12
What people are saying - Write a review
We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.
Lenders to the Exh1b1t1on
On deathless glor1es f1x th1ne ardent v1ew
Moses W1ll1ams Cutter of Prof1les
3 other sections not shown
abolitionist act1ve African American art African descent African Methodist Episcopal Albumen print American Antiquarian Society Art Museum Baltimore Bannister black bodies Boston British Calvert carte-de-visite Charles Willson Peale Cinque Collection colonial Colonization Society color created culture Cutter of Profiles daguerreotype dark Darnall DeGrasse depicted dressed ecphrasis Edward Edward James Roye eighteenth England engraving enslaved African exhibition Frederick Douglass free African Americans frontispiece gaze hair hand Henry Darnall Henry Louis Gates Historical Society identity James Armistead John Liberia Library Company London Mamout Maryland Massachusetts Mendi mezzotints middle-class Moses Williams Museum of Art National Portrait Gallery Negro nineteenth century Oil on canvas Orleans painter paper Peale family Pennsylvania Phillis Wheatley Photographs physiognotrace portraiture print on card public sphere published racial Raphaelle Peale Rembrandt role Sacco servant silhouette sitter slave slavery social Sully Tanner Thomas University Press viewer Virginia visual Washington Wheatley's Williams's woman York young