Frederick Douglass in Daguerreotypes
Anonymous, 1848, Chester County Historical Society
Samuel J. Miller, 1847/52, Art Institute of Chicago
Anonymous, c. 1855, Metropolitan Museum of Art
Anonymous, c. 1855, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
The great abolitionist leader and statesman Frederick Douglass is claimed as the most-photographed American of the 19th century. He was certainly a frequent visitor to the photographic studios of the day and these are just a few of the magnificent portraits for which he posed throughout a long life in the public eye. Douglass seems to have loved the camera and the feeling was mutual: the majestic figure he cut in images such as these may well have been as influential as his words in asserting the dignity and equality of African-Americans.