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Historical Documents
Portrait of Absalom Jones

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Portrait of Absalom Jones

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The most widely recognized image of the Reverend Absalom Jones, completed sometime prior to the winter of 1810, displays a dignity rarely allowed African subjects in 19th century art. The half-length portrait shows Jones in his ecclesiastical robes, with Bible in hand. Its style is simple; yet it is reminiscent of formal paintings of European clergy. The portrait was unusual in a period when just the busts or heads of blacks were typically depicted.

The portrait was painted by Raphaelle Peale, the oldest surviving child of the prominent Philadelphia portraitist Charles Willson Peale. The senior Peale was pleased to discover that his son had "painted a Portrait in oil of Absalom Jones a very excellent picture of the Rev'd. Gentleman." The following year, in defiance of his father's wishes, Raphaelle abandoned portraiture in favor of still life.

Image Credit: Delaware Art Museum

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