Frederick Douglass in Daguerreotypes

Anon, Portrait of Frederick Douglass, 1848, Chester Co Hist Soc
Anonymous, 1848, Chester County Historical Society

Samuel J. Miller, Frederick Douglass, 1852, Daguerreotype. Art Institute of Chicago.
Samuel J. Miller, 1847/52, Art Institute of Chicago

Anon, Portrait of Frederick Douglass, c. 1855, Met
Anonymous, c. 1855, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Anon, Portrait of Frederick Douglass, c. 1855, Nelson
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.

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