Mar 25, 2021 - Sale 2562

Sale 2562 - Lot 198

Price Realized: $ 32,500
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 15,000 - $ 25,000
(FREDERICK DOUGLASS.) Samuel M. Fassett, photographer. Scarce carte de visite portrait of Douglass, with his signature on verso. Albumen photograph, 3 3/4 x 2 1/4 inches, on original mount with photographer's dated backmark; minimal wear, small tape mark on verso, signature slightly smudged. Washington, DC, 1878

Additional Details

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. Only one other example of this portrait is known, an unsigned copy which brought $18,750 in Swann's 28 March 2019 auction.

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.