[Vernacular Photograph of a White Family on a Porch with an African American Boy].
Nineteenth-century American family portrait, taken on the porch of a modest home. A husband and wife and their baby in a carriage are to the far right. Two young women sit on the steps. To their left sits an older man, arms crossed —the family patriarch. Behind this man, two elderly women are seated.
Behind the elderly women, and behind everyone, is an African American boy, standing, who is likely a “house boy” or servant or in a similar economic role. His purpose in the photograph perhaps suggests that the family, in addition to showing off their Sunday best, wanted to show their upward mobility; of being able to afford hired help.
The visual layout of the photograph presents an intentionally-defined social “order” that fit within the cultural perspective of this American white family, and perhaps that of the anonymous photographer as well.
Description: [Vernacular Photograph of a White Family on a Porch with an African American Boy].
[America, c.1890s]. Albumen photograph on card mount. No backmark. 5¼ x 4¼ inches overall; image 3¾ x 3½ inches. Faintly rubbed; Very Good.