CDV studio portrait of seated African American boy wearing a kepi. J.W. Black: Boston, n.d., circa 1865. 173 Washington St. imprint on verso.
James Wallace Black (1825-1896) was an experimental photographer who began his career as a daguerreotype plate polisher. He is well known for his portraits of Walt Whitman and of abolitionist John Brown taken in 1859, the year of Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry. He also successfully captured aerial photographs from a hot-air balloon creating Boston, as the Eagle and the Wild Goose See It – recognized as the first clear aerial image of a city.
Black is also known to have taken the portraits of several officers and enlisted men who served in the Union army during the Civil War. Here, Black captures the youthfulness of his subject reflected in the jaunty angle of the kepi and the hint of a smile. It is possible that the young, unidentified subject may have served in some capacity with a regiment – as the servant for an officer or in another support capacity.
Small spot near hat brim, some toning, crease to lower mount corner.
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