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865.01   Portrait: Parts of the body: Back: Single person
865.02   The scourged back
865.03   Portrait: Parts of the body: Back: Groups
865.04   Front and back view portraits
This theme includes example sections and will be revised and added to as we proceed. Suggestions for additions, improvements and the correction of factual errors are always appreciated. 
Status: Collect > Document > Analyse > Improve
865.01   Portrait >  Portrait: Parts of the body: Back: Single person 
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Slideshow (Be patient as this has 29 slides to load.) 
   Portrait Back View 
View exhibition 
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865.02   Portrait >  The scourged back 
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An albumen print taken in March or April 1963 shows Gordon, a runaway African American slave, with his back scourged by whip marks. There are few photographs that show the reality of slave live in the American South and the horrors are increasing shown in film.[1]
Gordon ran away a Mississippi plantation to a Union camp in Baton Rouge about 80 miles away during the American Civil War. He enlisted into the Union Army and his medical exam showed his appallingly scared back. The whipping to his back had taken place in the fall of 1862 for undisclosed reasons was so extreme that it was photographed. The photograph is generally known by two titles The Scourged Back and Gordon, A Runaway Mississippi Slave and the photograph is attributed to William D. McPherson & Oliver who were itinerant photographers operating out of New Orleans and Baton Rouge in Louisiana who were in the camp at the time. Samuel K. Towle, a surgeon with the 30th Regiment of the Massachusetts Volunteers, sent a copy to the Surgeon-General of the State of Massachusetts with the accompanying text:
Few sensation writers ever depicted worse punishments than this man must have received, though nothing in his appearance indicates any unusual viciousnessóbut on the contrary, he seems INTELLIGENT AND WELL-BEHAVED.[2]
The photograph had propaganda significance to the Abolitionist movement in America as it was undeniable evidence of inhuman cruelty. On the 4th July 1863, which was the day Vicksburg fell, a wood engraving was published in the widely distributed magazine Harper's Weekly[3]. It was also printed as part of the title page of Fanny Kemble's book The Views of Judge Woodward and Bishop Hopkins on Negro Slavery at the South.[4] The power of the photograph was appreciated at the time as one source said:
This Card Photograph should be multiplied by 100,000, and scattered over the States. It tells the story in a way that even Mrs. [Harriet Beecher] Stowe [author of the 1852 book, Uncle Tomís Cabin] can not approach, because it tells the story to the eye.[5]
Photographers, including Mathew Brady, in the North copied the photograph and included it on their own carte de visite mounts. Little is known about Gordon's subsequent life but this photograph and the way it was used was evidence of the injustice, and barbarity, that was a part of slavery. 
865.03   Portrait >  Portrait: Parts of the body: Back: Groups 
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Slideshow (Be patient as this has 20 slides to load.) 
   Portrait Back View 
View exhibition 
Title | Lightbox | Checklist
865.04   Portrait >  Front and back view portraits 
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Slideshow (Be patient as this has 19 slides to load.) 
On occassion both a front and back view of the same person would be taken and then affixed on the front and back of a single carte de visite to act as a novelty item or be on two separate carte de visites. In anthropological photography this approach was used as a scientic method to document body shape, clothing and adornment.  
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Anthropological use of front and back photographs 
By affixing a photograph of a clothed person on one side of a carte de visite and a naked view of the same person on the other side there was a shock value that was designed to titillate the viewer.  
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Pornographic use of front and back 

  1. Λ Films on the African American slave experience include - Django Unchained (2012), Twelve Years a Slave (2013).
    List of films featuring slavery - Wikipedia
    (Accessed: 24 January 2014) 
  2. Λ Quoted in Frank H. Goodyear, III, "Photography changes the way we record and respond to social issues"
    (Accessed: 24 January 2014) 
  3. Λ The photograph of the "Scourged back" was published as a wood engraving in - 4 July 1863, Harper's Weekly, p. 429, bottom.
    Library of Congress, "Gordon as he entered our lines. Gordon under medical inspection. Gordon in his uniform as a U.S. soldier", Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-98515 (b&w film copy neg.), Call Number: Illus. in AP2.H32 Case Y [P&P] 
  4. Λ The engraving was also used on the title page of Frances Kemble, 1863, The Views of Judge Woodward and Bishop Hopkins on Negro Slavery at the South, Illustrated from the Journal of a Residence on a Georgia Plantation by Mrs Frances Anne Kemble, [Philadelphia? : s.n.]
    A film has been made Enslavement: The True Story of Fanny Kemble (2000) on the abolitionist work of Fanny Kemble. 
  5. Λ An unidentified writer for the New York Independent - quoted in Frank H. Goodyear, III, "Photography changes the way we record and respond to social issues"
    (Accessed: 24 January 2014)

HomeThemesPortraitParts of the body > Back 
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Please submit suggestions for Online Exhibitions that will enhance this theme.
Alan -

ThumbnailPortrait: An Aversion to Face 
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Released (March 23, 2007)
ThumbnailPortrait: Back view 
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Released (March 26, 2008)

HomeVisual indexes > Back

Please submit suggestions for Visual Indexes to enhance this theme.
Alan -

ThumbnailEdward Weston: Nude backs 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
ThumbnailKarl Meckes: Front and back views 
ThumbnailOlympe Aguado: Back views 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
ThumbnailOlympe Aguado: Woman Seen from the Back 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
ThumbnailW. Fechner: Front and back views of a gentleman 
ThumbnailMan Ray - Kathy Grove 
ThumbnailFront and back views 
ThumbnailPortrait: Parts of the body: Back: Groups 
ThumbnailPortrait: Parts of the body: Back: Single person 
ThumbnailCabinet cards: Front and back 
ThumbnailCarte de visites: Themes: Front and backs 
   Still thinking about these... 
ThumbnailThe scourged back 
Refreshed: 17 January 2015, 14:24
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