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

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Chang and Eng Bunker

The Siamese Twins
This c. 1838-45 portrait of Chang and Eng Bunker (both 1811-1874) is on display at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC.
"The outdated term 'Siamese twins' originates from brothers Chang and Eng Bunker (both 1811-1874), born in Siam (now Thailand) with a shared liver and joined at the sternum. Discovered in their teens by a Scottish merchant and put on tour, the conjoined twins became sensations. For most of their career, they acted as their own managers, and so were neither exploited as curiosities nor exiled for their unusual anatomy. With their commercial success, they settled on a North Carolina plantation, became slaveholders, married two sisters, and fathered twenty one children. They died within hours of each other. Their story has been interpreted by many, from Mark Twain to a current film in the works by Gary Oldman. This broadside shows the twins in a tropical scene as both Eastern and western subjects wearing suits and cloth headdresses and highlighting their connecting tissue. It shrewdly offers for sale auto-biographical pamphlets and portraits 'suitable for framing.'" -- National Portrait Gallery

 This Bill Coughlin  photo of the grave of Eng and Chang appears in HMDB.

  Eng Bunker |Chang Bunker
May 11, 1811| May 11, 1811
Jan. 17, 1874| Jan 17, 1874

His wife | His wife
Sarah A. Yates | Adelaide Yates
Dec. 18, 1822| Oct. 11, 1823
Apr. 29, 1892 | May 21, 1917

Siamese Twins Chang and Eng
Born in Siam


Mark Twain's version of  Those Extraordinary Twins don't resemble Chang and Eng whether in the poster that inspired him or the marginal illustrations in the authorized edition.

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