Edmonia Lewis CDV, ca 1870

CDV of Edmonia Lewis seated at a table. Augustus Marshall: Boston, Massachusetts, n.d., ca 1870. Augustus Marshall imprint on verso.  Previously unknown, this rare CDV of Lewis is one of few known images of the artist taken by Marshall. Most other images of Lewis were believed to be taken by Chicago photographer Henry Rocher between 1868 and 1870, with the exception of one later photograph taken in Rome sometime between 1872 and 1878. Numerous pencil inscriptions on verso.

Edmonia Lewis (1844-1907) was a uniquely successful sculptor of both African American and Native American ancestry. She attended Oberlin College from 1859 until 1863, though she never officially graduated due to accusations that she poisoned white students and stole art supplies. After leaving Oberlin, Lewis moved to Boston and studied under Edward Brackett, a noted portrait sculptor in the area under whose tutelage she began crafting sculptures of her own: most prominently, 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. 

Though newspaper accounts confirm Lewis's presence at the San Francisco Art Association for an exhibition of her work in 1872, little is known about her life in the latter years of the decade, and beyond. 


CDV with light surface soil, mount with heavier surface soil pencil marks, and wear to edges and corners. Verso with heavy discoloration and many pencil inscriptions including collection/catalogue codes.

Estimate: $3,000 - $5,000
Price Realized Including Buyer's Premium

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