[Portrait of a Child] (Main View)


The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum
Los Angeles, United States

Made sometime between 1850 and 1855, a full decade before the Emancipation Proclamation made all persons of color free in the United States, this daguerreotype of a young black boy is an important record of the face of America in the middle of the 1800s.

The American poet Walt Whitman said that the daguerreotype created "a new world of images." Democratic, down-to-earth, and brimming with opportunity, both the daguerreotype and America celebrated the status of individuals--their personal liberties and cultural freedoms. A portrait such as this, of a child who was probably never a slave, stands as a significant marker toward the fulfillment of democracy's promise.


  • Title: [Portrait of a Child] (Main View)
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: about 1857–1858
  • Physical Dimensions: 5.2 × 4 cm (2 1/16 × 1 9/16 in.)
  • Type: Cased object
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: Hand-colored daguerreotype
  • Terms of Use: Open Content
  • Number: 84.XT.1582.18
  • Culture: American
  • Credit Line: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
  • Creator Display Name: Unknown maker, American
  • Classification: Photographs (Visual Works)

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