[Smiling Man]

Object Details

Title:

[Smiling Man]

Artist/Maker(s):

Unknown maker, American

Culture:

American

Date:

1860

Medium:

Ambrotype

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Capturing this man's spontaneous charm in this ambrotype was a remarkable achievement for early photography. He wears casual clothing; a union suit and an open-necked shirt with a lightweight jacket hang easily on his body. He strikes a pose like a boxer, fists upraised and clenched. His open grin, however, disarms the gesture, creating a lively portrait of an individual whose name and life-story have been lost to history.

More remarkable, perhaps, this free man of color was photographed three years before the Emancipation Proclamation granted African Americans their freedom.

Exhibitions
Nineteenth Century American Photography (October 26, 1991 to March 29, 1992)
  • The Amon Carter Museum, (Fort Worth), October 26, 1991 to January 5, 1992
  • Mead Art Museum, (Amherst), February 1 to March 29, 1992
Hidden Witness: African Americans in Early Photography (February 28 to June 18, 1995)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum, (Malibu), February 28 to June 18, 1995