Untitled (Half Length Portrait Of African American Woman, Seated And Leaning Against Tapestry-Covered Table)
© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
2008.305
People
Unidentified Artist
Title
Untitled (half length portrait of African American woman, seated and leaning against tapestry-covered table)
Classification
Photographs
Work Type
photograph
Date
1840s-1850s
Places
Creation Place: North America, United States
Culture
American
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Hand-colored sixth-plate daguerreotype
Technique
Daguerreotype
Dimensions
8.3 x 7 cm (3 1/4 x 2 3/4 in.)
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Richard and Ronay Menschel Fund for the Acquisition of Photographs
Accession Year
2008
Object Number
2008.305
Division
European and American Art
Contact
am_europeanamerican@harvard.edu
Descriptions

Label Text: 32Q: 2100 19th Century , written 2014
This drawer brings together a daguerreotype and a group of portrait miniatures from eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Europe and America. Ranging from a chalk drawing to a pair of watercolors on ivory, these works were all intended for intimate, private contemplation. Scaled to fit within the viewer’s hand and distinguished by meticulous, exacting detail, the miniatures invite a very different kind of viewing from the large public portraits displayed in these galleries. With the introduction of photography in 1839, a much wider public could afford accurate small-scale likenesses. This daguerreotype shares the oval format of the earlier miniatures.
The sitters in these portraits hail from very different walks of society. While the Isabey watercolor may depict the Queen of Holland (stepdaughter of Napoleon), the subject of the other miniature has traditionally been identified as Francis Barber, the beloved Jamaican servant of the famous British author and abolitionist Samuel Johnson.

Publication History

Colleen Walsh, "Defining themselves; Two 19th century daguerreotypes allowed African Americans to show their lives as they were", Harvard Gazette (Cambridge, MA, 2010)

Exhibition History

GenEd US12 American Encounters: Art, Contact, and Conflict, 1560-1860 (S427) Spring 2012, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 01/31/2012 - 05/12/2012

32Q: 2100 19th Century, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/01/2014 - 11/10/2015

Subjects and Contexts

Collection Highlights

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of European and American Art at am_europeanamerican@harvard.edu