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(DOUGLASS, FREDERICK.) Fassett, Samuel M.; photographer. Previously unknown carte-de-visite portrait of Douglass. Albumen print, 3 3/4 x 2 1/4 inches, on original mount with photographer's dated backmark; minimal spotting and wear. Washington, DC, 1878
The 2015 reference book Picturing Frederick Douglass includes 160 known photographic portraits of Douglass, who was the most photographed American of the 19th century. This handsome profile portrait, however, is not included. Another portrait by the same photographer, also dated 1878, appears to be from the same sitting. It was taken in the same period as perhaps the best-known Douglass portrait by George Warren (see lot 238 below), so his features appear very familiar, but his expression is pensive rather than intense. The photographer Samuel Montague Fassett (1825-1910) first photographed Douglass in 1864. Fassett's wife Clara was an artist. In 1879 she painted "The Florida Case in Open Sessions Before the Electoral Commission, February 5, 1877", with Frederick Douglass appearing in the lower right. She depicted him in a similar profile view, possibly using this pose as a reference.
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