Edwin A. Abbey (After) Itinerant Photographer in Mise-en-Scene with Horse-Drawn Carriage, African-Americans
Photo Date 1850c Print Date 1850c
Dimensions 10 x 14.5 in. (254 x 368 mm)
Photo Country United States (USA)
Photographer Country United States (USA)
Contact Charles Schwartz
About This Image
Original Illustration from Harper's Weekly Published Dec. 16, 1871.
This image is rife with many-layered meanings, raising questions about race, class, and the relationship of photography to the mass media in the Victorian Age.
Reads: "THE TRAVELING PHOTOGRAPHER IN THE COUNTRY.—FROM A SKETCH BY THOMAS WORTH." The engraving is signed in the lower right: "Edwin A Abbey fecit".
The image itself is both strange and highly descriptive. In it, we see an itinerant photographer standing in a doorway with his camera pointed, in a most unlikely fashion, out to the street (or perhaps a field near a farm). A wealthy white family is pulled up outside the photographer's wooden structure in a horse and carriage, as if the family wished to have its portrait taken outdoors. Numerous country folk are watching the scene with interest, including African-Americans, who are depicted in minstrel-like fashion, with exaggerated lips.
NOTE: There is paper loss in lower margin, affecting image. Top margin is affixed to mat.
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