Frederick Douglass, 1847—52
Samuel J. Miller
The Art Institute of Chicago, Major Acquisitions Centennial Endowment
Frederick Douglass—an escaped slave who had become a lauded speaker, writer, and agitator— sat for this portrait in a commercial studio in Akron. Northeastern Ohio was a center of Abolitionism, and Douglass knew that this picture, one of an astonishing number that he commissioned, would be seen by ardent supporters of his campaign to end slavery. He likely guided the pose, which shows him truly “majestic in his wrath,” to quote his feminist contemporary Elizabeth Cady Stanton.