CDV studio portrait of Edmonia Lewis. Henry Rocher: Chicago, n.d., circa 1870. Photographer's 88 N. Clark St. imprint on verso. The artist wears a dark jacket with elaborate toggles and fringe on the sleeves, resting her arm on a table draped with fabric. Rocher (1826-1887) captured several known views during the sitting, circa 1868-1870 in Chicago. The pose captured here, one of the more composed and serious of the series, is quite scarce with a known copy at Harvard Art Museums (2010.64).
Edmonia Lewis (1844-1907) was a uniquely successful sculptor of both African American and Native American ancestry. She is considered the first African American sculptor to achieve national and international prominence. After an abbreviated education at Oberlin, Lewis moved to Boston in 1864 and studied under Edward Brackett, a noted portrait sculptor under whose tutelage she sculpted portraits of famous abolitionists including William Lloyd Garrison and the martyred John Brown.
She then traveled through Europe, finally settling in Rome in 1865 along with many other American sculptors and artists. What set her apart was her insistence upon finishing all of her own work, and her willingness to explore themes inspired by her own heritage and ethnicity. One of her most poignant works, Hagar, brings new life to the Old Testament castoff, depicting courage and strength in the face of the Egyptian matriarch.
Some spotting to upper and lower edges, card verso toned. Unknown hand has written "Edmond [sic] Lewis" to the verso in blue ink.
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