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Henry Pollock (Baltimore)
An African-American slave, with her arm wrapped around the younger of two siblings
Daguerreotype, 1/4 plate, hand-tinted
Swann Galleries - New York
Courtesy of Swann Galleries (Auction, May 22, 2007, #2115, Lot 206)
Pollock of Baltimore (whose name is stamped on the brass mat); in a leather case.
An extraordinarily intimate portrait by Henry Pollock, a highly-regarded practitioner of the daguerreian art form in Baltimore, Maryland. The pre-adolescent slave is affectionately, indeed protectively, holding her young charge while the boy at left gazes intently at the cameraman, his straw hat in hand.
In most instances the relationship between children of house slaves and those of the master was familiar. Youngsters not only fraternized but, as this portrait demonstrably reflects, were also very close. This theme appears in the literature of the 20th century as well as that of the 19th century, including "The Bondswoman's Narrative."
A decade later, a clash between pro-South civilians and Union troops, in 1861, resulted in what is commonly accepted to be the first bloodshed of the Civil War. Secessionist sympathy was strong in Baltimore, a border state metropolis, throughout the War Between the States. However, the state of Maryland was allied with the Union cause.
Pollock's studio was a local favorite. A period journalist wrote of the photographer: "None of the Daguerreotypists of Balto. except Pollock, are considered worthy of confidence. They are generally an unreliable and irresponsible set of men who spend faster than they make, would not credit any of them (except the one named) . . ." DC (Maryland, Vol. 8, p.519).
This daguerreian artist, who later produced ambrotypes, was born in Washington, D.C. in 1810. His first studio was at 147 Lexington; the following year he moved to 155 Baltimore, where he worked from 1850-1867.