Jul 01 at 01:00 PM - Sale 2534 - Exhibition Hours

Sale 2534 - Lot 358

Estimate: $ 3,000 - $ 4,000
(PHOTOGRAPHY.) [Randall, Corydon C.; photographer?] One of the last carte-de-visite portraits taken of Sojourner Truth. Albumen photograph, 3 1/2 x 2 1/4 inches, on original printed mount; minor wear and toning, very faint dampstaining. [Detroit, MI?], [11 April 1882?]

Additional Details

The abolitionist Sojourner Truth took great pains to have her photographs printed without a photographer's credit, and with a copyright statement on verso in her own name. The present example has her usual caption, "I Sell the Shadow to Support the Substance, Sojourner Truth," and her usual copyright statement on verso, "Entered according to act of Congress in the year 1864 . . . for the Eastern District of Mich."
The exhaustive history of her photographs by Darcy Grimaldo Grigsby, "En ...
The abolitionist Sojourner Truth took great pains to have her photographs printed without a photographer's credit, and with a copyright statement on verso in her own name. The present example has her usual caption, "I Sell the Shadow to Support the Substance, Sojourner Truth," and her usual copyright statement on verso, "Entered according to act of Congress in the year 1864 . . . for the Eastern District of Mich."
The exhaustive history of her photographs by Darcy Grimaldo Grigsby, "Enduring Truths," notes that Truth used this 1864 copyright statement on photographs taken well after 1864. She adds that Truth's claim of copyright on her own portrait was extremely unusual: "I have found no other card from the period that features a copyright in the name of the sitter" (page 139). The radical labor organizer Lucy Parsons was one other example (see Swann's 10 March 2020 sale).
In 1881 and 1882, Truth sat for three final portrait sessions with Detroit photographer Corydon C. Randall. Grigsby tentatively assigns the present portrait to the last of these sessions, on 11 April 1882 (figures 127A and B), and notes: "The frontal view is intimate and soft; we see a woman who looks older and more fragile, but also tender. . . . She appears somewhat distant and sad. We see her eyes, yet she seems absorbed in thought, perhaps unseeing" (page 187). Truth ordered 50 cabinet cards and 50 cartes-de-visite from this final Randall sitting, and died in November 1883 (pages 178 and 183).