Father, Daughters, and Nurse
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Thomas Martin Easterly
American, about 1850
Hand-colored daguerreotype
2 13/16 x 3 1/2 in.

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This somber image is as important for what it leaves out as for what it shows. The conspicuous absence of the man's wife and the children's mother and the inclusion of the elderly mammy suggest the latter's role as caregiver to the family and hence her inclusion in the family portrait.

Despite the responsibility of her position, this woman was probably a slave. Her emotional separation from the family is emphasized in the group's body language: the girls lean toward their corpulent father, while the small, old woman sits just beside the small child's chair, her crossed hands in her lap revealing multiple rings that hint at familial connections of her own.