"A portrait is a picture in which there is just a tiny little something not quite right about the mouth." -- John Singer Sargent

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Frederick Douglass

This c. 1844 portrait of Frederick Douglass (1817-1895) by an unidentified artist hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC.
"Frederick Douglass became the first nationally known African American in U.S. history by turning his life into a testimony on the evils of slavery and the redemptive power of freedom. He had escaped from slavery in 1838 and subsequently became a powerful witness for abolitionism, speaking, writing, and organizing on behalf of the movement; he also founded a newspaper, the North Star. Douglass's charisma derived from his ability to present himself as the author of his own destiny at a time when white America could barely conceive of the black man as a thinking and feeling human being. The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass is not only a gripping nonfiction account of one man's struggle for freedom; it is also one of the greatest American autobiographies. This powerful portrait shows Douglass as he grew in prominence during the 1840s." -- National Portrait Gallery

This engraving based on the portrait above forms the frontis Piece of the The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, 1846.

Listen to a Face-to-Face talk by Park Ranger Rose Weiss on Frederick Douglass (18:47)

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