Ward’s depiction of a seminude African-American man was inspired by President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, issued on September 22, 1862. Contemporary appreciation for “The Freedman” arose from the desire for statuary that addressed current issues in straightforward terms rather than through allegories. The muscular figure was executed with remarkable attention to anatomical accuracy. The broken manacles on the former enslaved man’s left wrist and in his right hand offer a succinct commentary on the chief political and moral topic of the era and clearly proclaim Ward’s abolitionist sentiments.
Signature: [front of base]: J.Q.A. WARD. Sc / 1863
Marking: [foundry mark, back of base]: [cursive] Cast by the Henry-Bonnard Bronze Co. / New York 1891.
the artist, until 1909; Charles Rollinson Lamb, 1909–d. 1942; by descent in family; his grandchildren Charles Anthony Lamb and Barea Lamb Seeley, until 1979