Picturing Frederick Douglass: An Illustrated Biography of the Nineteenth Century's Most Photographed American

By John Stauffer, Zoe Trodd

A landmark and collectible volume―beautifully produced in duotone―that canonizes Frederick Douglass via old photography.

Picturing Frederick Douglass is a piece that delivers to revolutionize our wisdom of race and images in nineteenth-century the United States. Teeming with ancient element, it really is jam-packed with surprises, leader between them the truth that neither George Custer nor Walt Whitman, and never even Abraham Lincoln, used to be the main photographed American of that century. actually, it was once Frederick Douglass (1818–1895), the ex-slave became top abolitionist, eloquent orator, and seminal author whose fiery speeches reworked him into probably the most well known and renowned agitators of his age. Now, a result of groundbreaking study of John Stauffer, Zoe Trodd, and Celeste-Marie Bernier, Douglass emerges as a number one pioneer in images, either as a stately topic and as a prescient theorist who believed within the explosive social strength of what was once then only a nascent artwork form.

Indeed, Frederick Douglass was once in love with images. throughout the 4 years of Civil battle, he wrote extra commonly at the topic than the other American, even whereas spotting that his audiences have been "riveted" by way of the warfare and sought after a speech merely on "this powerful struggle." He frequented photographers’ studios on a regular basis and sat for his portrait every time he may. To Douglass, images was once the nice "democratic artwork" that might ultimately assert black humanity rather than the slave "thing" and even as counter the blackface minstrelsy caricatures that had come to outline the general public belief of what it intended to be black. hence, his legacy is inseparable from his portrait gallery, which incorporates a hundred and sixty separate photographs.

At final, all of those images were accumulated right into a unmarried quantity, giving us an incomparable visible biography of a guy whose prophetic imaginative and prescient and artistic genius knew no bounds. Chronologically prepared and generously captioned, from the 1st photo taken in round 1841 to the final in 1895, all of the images―many released the following for the 1st time―emphasizes Douglass's evolution as a guy, artist, and chief. additionally integrated are different representations of Douglass in the course of his lifetime and after―such as work, statues, and satirical cartoons―as good as Douglass’s personal writings on visible aesthetics, that have by no means prior to been transcribed from his personal handwritten drafts.

The accomplished advent through the authors, in addition to headnotes for every part, an essay via Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and an afterword via Kenneth B. Morris, Jr.―a direct Douglass descendent―provide the definitive exam of Douglass's highbrow, philosophical, and political relationships to aesthetics. Taken jointly, this landmark paintings canonizes Frederick Douglass via a kind he liked the main: photography.


  • Contributions from Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and Kenneth B. Morris, Jr. (a direct Douglass descendent)
  • 160 separate photos of Douglass―many of that have by no means been publicly obvious and have been lengthy misplaced to history
  • A selection of contemporaneous art that indicates how robust Douglass’s photographic legacy continues to be this day, over a century after his death
  • All Douglass’s formerly unpublished writings and speeches on visible aesthetics

317 illustrations

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41Lincoln’s proclamation had declared that September 26 be put aside as an afternoon of public fasting and prayer for a Union victory and the recovery of peace. 42Matt. 3:10: “And now additionally the awl is laid unto the foundation of the timber: for this reason each tree which bringeth now not forth sturdy fruit is hewn down, and forged into the fireplace. ” 43John Brown, Jr. , the eldest son of John Brown, didn't perform Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry, and through the Civil battle he recruited and captained an organization of Kansas squaddies. 44Douglass rates from “The current Crisis,” via James Russell Lowell. See The Writings of James Russell Lowell, Vol. 7: Poems, 1 (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co. , 1890), p. 183. 45Boston used to be often called the “Athens of the USA. ” See Thomas H. O’Connor, The Athens of the United States, 1825–1845 (Amherst: collage of Massachusetts Press, 2006). 46A connection with the commemoration of John Brown at the anniversary of his loss of life. On December three, 1860, Douglass and different abolitionists held a wide assembly at Tremont Temple in Boston and have been attacked by way of a mob. 47The well known ballad “John Brown’s physique” was once created in mid-1861 via Massachusetts squaddies garrisoning castle Warren in Boston Harbor. See John Stauffer and Benjamin Soskis, The conflict Hymn of the Republic: A Biography of the tune That Marches On (New York: Oxford college Press, 2013). 48Senator James Mason of Virginia interviewed John Brown the day after his trap and presided over the Senate research of the Harpers Ferry raid. He turned a accomplice officer in the course of the Civil warfare and used to be captured and despatched to castle Warren in Boston, which grew to become a Union prisoner-of-war camp. 49Douglass describes a pre-naturalist sensibility, a Darwinian global of pageant and the fight for survival, within which struggle is a metaphor for all times itself. 50Possibly a connection with Richard Westall’s well-known portrait of Lord Byron (1813). 51A lightning coire (or coir) is an early type of lightning rod. 52“Free Speech Maintained in Syracuse,” Douglass’ per month (December 1861), p. 567. This evaluation most likely refers to “Life images. ” TFDP 1:3, pp. 619–20. 53The observe “photography” capability light-writing, and early photographers usually stated their debt to the solar because the resource in their artwork. 54In 1830, few books incorporated frontispiece engravings; by means of 1860 so much did, and so they have been mostly snap shots of the writer. This shift mirrored the increase of visible tradition. 55Douglass back invokes the preferred legend approximately Oliver Cromwell (cf notice 14 to half IV, pp. 261–262). 56Douglass back refers to Mathew Brady’s portrait of Lincoln, taken a number of hours ahead of Lincoln’s Cooper Institute tackle in February 1860 (cf observe 19 to half IV, p. 262). 57Douglass most likely is referring the following to Lincoln’s divisive First Inaugural. Reactions to that speech broke alongside occasion, sectional, and ideological traces. Southerners, so much Northern Democrats, and so much abolitionists disliked it, yet centrist Republicans enormously favourite it. Douglass used to be so disenchanted by means of it that he thought of relocating to Haiti and inspiring different blacks to to migrate there.

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