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.
Artist:John Quincy Adams Ward (American, Urbana, Ohio 1830–1910 New York) Date:ca. 1860Medium:Drawings in pen and brown and black ink, graphite, and Conté crayon on off-white wove paper, bound in black coated Bristol boardAccession:1985.351On view in:Not on view