albumen silver print
3 15/16 x 2 3/8 in. (10 x 6.1 cm)
McGuigan Collection. Artwork in the public domain.
Between 1868 and 1870, sculptor Edmonia Lewis sat on several occasions for photographer Henry Rocher, likely in his Chicago studio. This albumen print is one of several from the same session, during which Lewis adopted a variety of poses. Lewis’s experimentation with her positioning demonstrates her desire to capture her likeness accurately. In this photograph, Lewis leans against a table draped in cloth, embellished with Greek-inspired motifs, perhaps gesturing to the influence of classicism on her work. Her stoic gesture is similar to poses commonly found in portraits of high-society gentlemen and male artists. Together, these conventions legitimize Lewis as a woman artist of color and assert her status, on par with her male contemporaries.