The Freedman

Artist: John Quincy Adams Ward (American, Urbana, Ohio 1830–1910 New York)

Date: 1863, cast 1891

Medium: Bronze

Dimensions: 19 1/2 x 14 3/4 x 9 3/4 in. (49.5 x 37.5 x 24.8 cm)

Classification: Sculpture

Credit Line: Gift of Charles Anthony Lamb and Barea Lamb Seeley, in memory of their grandfather, Charles Rollinson Lamb, 1979

Accession Number: 1979.394


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.