Portraits & Illustrations of Individuals

  • Christian and Rebecca Protten, ca. 1751

    Photo of oil painting (courtesy of Jon Sensbach) by Johann Valentin Haidt, held by the Moravian Archives (Unity Archives [Archiv der Bruder-Unitat]), Herrnhut (Germany). Christian Protten (1715-1769) and Rebecca (1718-1780), an ex-slave and Moravian convert were married in Germany in 1740; shown also is their child, Anna Maria Protten. For details on the lives of these people and this portrait in particular, see Jon Sensbach, Rebecca's Revival (Harvard Univ. Press, 2005), 196-200 and passim; see also image reference Sensbach3.
  • Emancipated Slaves, White and Colored

    This engraving derived from a photograph taken in New York City. The union army liberated these people, who were brought from New Orleans to New York by Philip Bacon, who had established the first school in Louisiana for emancipated slaves; the children were his pupils. The accompanying article gave details and brief biographical sketches for each person including descriptions of racial characteristics and notes on family connections. The image has three adults and five children. According to the accompanying text, the adults were "Wilson Chinn [60 yrs], a former plantation worker, branded on his forehead; Mary Johnson [no age given], a former cook in New Orleans, showing the scars of mistreatment; Robert Whitehead [no age given], a former house and ship painter and ordained preacher." The children were: Charles Taylor [8 yrs], Augusta Broujey [ 9 yrs], Isaac White [8 yrs], Rebecca Huger [11 yrs], Rosina Downs [7 yrs]), with the notation that "the children are from the schools established in New Orleans, by order of Major-General Banks" (p. 69).
  • Aunt Winnie

    For this image, the author reported on a visit to an estate in Central Virginia, not far from Charlottesville, where they met an enslaved domestic, Aunt Winnie, who was “of too much importance on the estate to be slighted. . . Her little white-washed cabin stood at no great distance from the great house, and was fitted up with due regard to the comfort of the aged occupant, not forgetting the ornamental, in the shape of highly colored lithographs and white-fringed curtains. . . Aunt Winnie was supposed to be upward of a hundred years old, and could count among her descendants’ children of the fifth generation, one of whom stood at her side when Crayon took a sketch of her. She walked with difficulty, but her eyes were bright, and her other faculties apparently complete. Her memory was good and her narratives of the olden time replete with interest” (p. 309-310). David Hunter Strother (1816–1888) was a successful magazine illustrator and writer, popularly known by his pseudonym, "Porte Crayon." He rose through the ranks of the union army to Brevet Brigadier General. For Virginia Illustrated, he wrote and illustrated “Adventures of Porte Crayon and His Cousins,” which was a narrative of the experiences of several travelers through central Virginia in late 1853. The series then appeared in five parts in Harpers New Monthly Magazine between 1854 and 1856. See Cecil Eby, Porte Crayon: The Life of David Hunter Strother (Chapel Hill, 1960); and also images HARP01 and HARP02.
  • Job ben Solomon, 1750

    Enlargement of a portrait published in the Gentleman's Magazine. For a discussion of ben Solomon and the painting on which this engraving is based, see image reference I019.
  • Cinque (fac-simile of the original autograph): The Chief of the Amistad Captives

    Joseph Cinqué (ca. 1814–ca. 1879), also known as Sengbe Pieh, was Mende from the Upper Guinea Coast. He helped lead a revolt of many Africans on the Spanish slave ship, La Amistad. This engraved portrait is based on original painting of 1839-1840, by Nathaniel Jocelyn, held by New Haven Colony Historical Society.
  • Toussaint L'Ouverture, Haiti (Saint Domingue), early 19th cent.

    Profile of the leader of the slave revolt in St. Domingue. Despite a variety of images of Toussaint, none were actually drawn from life (see also other images of Toussaint on this website).
  • Dred Scott, ca. 1857

    Oil painting by anonymous artist. Born a slave in Virginia in 1799, Scott was taken to St. Louis when in his twenties. He sued for his freedom in 1857 and became a central figure in a major U.S. Supreme Court decision. The Court upheld the right of the state of Missouri to hold him as a slave; thus, his petition for freedom was ultimately denied based on an interpretation of the U.S. Constitution. The portrait is probably based on an engraving of Dred Scott which first appeared in Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper (June 27, 1857), accompanying a lengthy article describing a visit to Scott and his household in 1857 (vol. 4, pp. 49-50). Scott had agreed to go to a studio to have his photograph taken by a Mr. Fitzgibbon of St. Louis. The engraving published in Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper was derived from this photo which, in turn, is identical to the one shown in this painting. The same issue of Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper also has engraved portraits of Scott's wife Harriet and his daughters Eliza and Lizzie, also derived from photographs by Fitzgibbon.
  • The Princess Madia

    Princess Madia was a captive on the Wildfire, an American slave ship captured by the U.S. Navy in 1860. Originally from the Kwanza North region, Madia was called princess by the Wildfire's crew because of her dignified personal appearance and the deference that she received from some of the captured slaves. The original 1860 photograph, by an unidentified photographer, from which the Harper's image was taken, is published in Ellen Dugan, ed., Picturing the South, 1860 to the Present (San Francisco, Chronicle Books, 1996, p. 30) with a companion image showing Madia, nude from the waist up and displaying her country marks (i.e., scarification patterns) in her abdominal area. The photographs are held by a private collector, but neither is identified in the Dugan volume. See image E027 in relation to the Wildfire. Harper's Weekly: A Journal of Civilization was an American political magazine based in New York City and published by Harper & Brothers from 1857 until 1916. It featured foreign and domestic news, fiction, essays on many subjects and humor, alongside illustrations. It covered the American Civil War extensively, including many illustrations of events from the war.
  • Union Jim

    This portrait was of Jim Williams (c. 1830-1871), aka Union Jim. He was from Washington, D.C. and member of the 95th Illinois regiment. He, along with forty other African American soldiers, held off a rebel party. Following his display of bravery, Williams wanted to raise his own company of black troops. Harper's Weekly: A Journal of Civilization was an American political magazine based in New York City and published by Harper & Brothers from 1857 until 1916. It featured foreign and domestic news, fiction, essays on many subjects and humor, alongside illustrations. It covered the American Civil War extensively, including many illustrations of events from the war.
  • The Escaped Slave; The Escaped Slave in the Union Army

    Two portraits of the same unidentified person. The top illustration shows a self-liberating man after his escape from Montgomery, Alabama. The bottom portrait shows the same man in full dress uniform as an enlistee in the Union Army. Harper's Weekly: A Journal of Civilization was an American political magazine based in New York City and published by Harper & Brothers from 1857 until 1916. It featured foreign and domestic news, fiction, essays on many subjects and humor, alongside illustrations. It covered the American Civil War extensively, including many illustrations of events from the war.
  • Abraham, Who Was Blow'd 'Free' Mile in De Air

    This portrait was of Abraham. who was a confederate soldier. As a slave, he worked in the mines of Fort Hill. After an explosion he was thrown high in the air and was the only survivor. Harper's Weekly: A Journal of Civilization was an American political magazine based in New York City and published by Harper & Brothers from 1857 until 1916. It featured foreign and domestic news, fiction, essays on many subjects and humor, alongside illustrations. It covered the American Civil War extensively, including many illustrations of events from the war.
  • Alice, an enslaved woman, ca. 1802

    Engraved portrait. Alice's parents had come from Barbados, but she was born in Philadelphia around 1686 and died, still enslaved, in Bristol, Pennsylvania 1802. Pp. 9-11 give a brief account of her life, including her recollections of the first AME church in Philadelphia.
  • Peter Williams, ca. 1810-15

    Oil painting by an unidentified artist. Born enslaved, Peter Williams became a tobacco merchant and founded the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church in New York. For details on his life, see R.W. Logan and M.R. Winston, Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York, 1982). For possible identification of painter, see also Hugh Honour, The Image of the Black in Western Art (Harvard University Press, 1989), vol. 4, pt. 1, p. 323n305. (Slide of painting, courtesy of New York Historical Society)
  • A Female House Servant, New Orleans, ca. 1840

    Oil painting showing upper torso and head of female household servant, wearing the mandatory tignon or kerchief. The subject is only identified as a maid of the Douglas family in New Orleans. A New Orleans city ordinance required all black female residents to wear a kerchief . . . over their heads (Campbell and Rice, p. x).
  • Portrait of an Enslaved Haitian Woman, 1786

    A portrait of a woman thought to have been painted in Saint Domingue and perhaps of Marie-Thérèse Zémire, who was brought to Haiti from Africa and then taken to Montreal as a slave.
  • Free Woman of Color, New Orleans, 1844

    Oil painting by Adolph Rinck, a German artist of a femme de couleur libre, wearing an elaborate kerchief or tignon. The subject is possibly Marie Laveau, the famous voodoo priestess (Campbell and Rice, p. xi). The University Art Museum, Lafayette, Louisiana holds the painting.
  • Rachel Pringle, Barbados, 1796

    Shows Pringle at the age of about 36 sitting in front of her hotel/tavern/house of prostitution in Bridgetown, capital of Barbados. The white man on left, presumably a planter has elephantiasis, a manifestation of filariasis, a common disease in West Africa during the era of the slave trade. In Barbados the disease mainly afflicted blacks but was also found among the island's white population. (For details on the disease, see Jerome Handler, Diseases and Medical Disabilities of Enslaved Barbadians [Journal of Caribbean History, vol. 40 (2006): 20-22.) Rachel Pringle was born a slave around 1753, the daughter of an African woman and her master, a Scottish schoolmaster. In the 1770s, she became the first free woman of color to own a hotel-tavern (and house of prostitution) in Barbados. When she died in 1792, at the age of 38, she was relatively wealthy. See Jerome S. Handler, Joseph Rachell and Rachael Pringle-Polgreen: Petty Entrepreneurs, in D.G. Sweet and G. B. Nash, eds., Struggle and Survival in Colonial America (Univ. of California Press, 1981), pp. 376-391. (Slide of engraving, courtesy of the late Neville Connell, Director of the Barbados Museum.)
  • Man Smoking a Pipe, ca. 1800-1825

    Titled A Negro smoking a pipe, this oil painting of an unidentified man is by an unknown artist; area unknown. Subject is smoking a long stemmed white clay pipe, a very common item throughout the New World colonies. CWF identifies the painting as English, but the location of the painting is not given in the CWF files (slide courtesy of Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, image DS 91-168).
  • Anthony Burns, a fugitive slave from Virginia, 1855

    Anthony Burns was born a slave in Virginia in 1824. In 1854 he escaped to Boston where he was arrested soon after his arrival under terms of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act. Although abolitionists tried to liberate him he was returned to his master in Virginia. His freedom was purchased by members of a Boston church in 1855. He returned to Boston, ultimately attended Oberlin college and became a clergyman. He died in 1862. This engraved portrait of Burns shows him surrounded by scenes depicting different phases of his life, including (from lower left), the purchase of the young Burns at auction, a whipping post with bales of cotton, his arrest in Boston in 1854, his escape from Richmond on board a ship, his removal from Boston, his address to the court, and Burns in prison. A different portrait of Burns also appears on the title page of a pamphlet, The Boston Slave Riot, and Trial of Anthony Burns (Boston, 1854 [see LC-USZ62-90720]). See also Virginia Hamilton, Anthony Burns: the defeat and triumph of a fugitive slave (New York, 1997).
  • Robert Smalls, 1862

    Smalls was born in Charleston, S.C. and for many years was a ship's pilot in Charleston harbor. In 1862, while Union forces had blockaded the harbor, the 23 year old Smalls (enslaved at the time), and eight other colored men who comprised the engineers and crew of the Confederate gun-boat Planter, ran the blockade and delivered the Planter to the Union side. The escapade was, in the words of the Harper's Weekly account, one of the most daring and heroic adventures since the war was commenced (p. 372). Smalls later became a major general in the South Carolina militia, a state legislator, and a five-term U.S. congressman. He also participated in drafting the state's constitution. In February 2004, The Army's chief of transportation at Fort Eustis (on the James River by Newport News, Virginia, the home of the US Army Transportation Corps) announced that the Army's newest ship will be named for Robert Smalls. The Major General Robert Smalls will be the first Army vessel to be named after an African-American and the first to be named for a Civil War hero; the ship will be christened in April 2004. For details, see article by Peter Bacque, staff writer for the Richmond (Virginia) Times-Dispatch, February 13, 2004. Also, see the Robert Smalls Legacy Foundation Web site, http://robertsmalls.org. A photo of Smalls, taken during Reconstruction -- when he was a congressman -- is published in James McPherson, The Illustrated Battle Cry of Freedom (New York, 2003), p. 485; taken from the Library of Congress collections.
  • Toussaint Louverture and General Thomas Maitland, Saint Domingue (Haiti), 1790s

    Caption, General Maitland meets Toussaint to discuss secret treaty. An artist's rendition of an event during the Haitian revolution, wherein the commander-in-chief of the British Army in Saint Domingue meets with the leader of the revolution. The treaty is described in Alexis, p. 110 ff. This image is also published in the 1985 Paris reprint edition of Antoine Matral, Histoire de l'Expedition des Francais a Saint-Dominique (Paris, 1825), plate 18, where the source is given as an (unidentified) item in the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris. It is questionable if there are any images of Toussaint that were actually taken from life. See also other images of Toussaint on this website.
  • Jean-Baptiste Belley, Saint Domingue (Haiti), 1797 or 1798

    Belley was a Senegalese, born at Goree about 1747 and enslaved in St. Domingue. Later he was in the French army and in 1793 became a representative of St. Domingue to the French government, a position he continued to hold for several years. For details on Belley and this painting, which is located at the Musèe National des Chateaux de Versailles, France (which also issues it as a colored postcard), see Honour, Image of the Black, pp. 104 ff, and Laurent Dubois, Revolution & Slave Emancipation in the French Caribbean, 1787-1804 (University of North Carolina Press, 2004), pp. 66-68.
  • Uncle Tom Brown, Windsor Plantation, Alabama, 1915

    Photograph of Tom Brown who was born a slave in Virginia, and in 1840 was taken to Alabama. See Matthews for biographical details.
  • Uncle Dick, Windsor Plantation, Alabama, 1915

    At eighty-two [he] is still on the Windsor plantation, whither he was brought early in life (Matthews).
  • Henry Christophe, King of Haiti, 1818

    Full-length portrait of Christophe, one of the national heroes of Haiti. He served as a general under Toussaint Louverture, and in 1806 succeeded Dessaline as the president of the newly independent state of Haiti. In 1811, he styled himself as king of the country ( for more details, see Honour, Image of the Black, pp. 109-110).
Advanced search