The Statue of "The Freed Slave" in Memorial Hall

Fernando Miranda (American; Spanish, 1842 – 1925)
publisher : Frank Leslie's Illustrated (American)
Electrotype engraving
Image : 10 7/8 x 9 3/8 in. (27.62 x 23.81 cm)
Sheet : 16 x 11 1/4 in. (40.64 x 28.58 cm)
Credit Line
Hope College Collection
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The display in the fine art hall at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia included a life-size bronze sculpture titled "The Abolition of Slavery" by Italian artist Francesco Pezzicar. The sculpture depicted an African American man standing with his arms raised triumphantly, showing a broken shackle on his right wrist and holding a copy of the Emancipation Proclamation in his left hand. Pezzicar hoped that this image celebrating the ideals of freedom and self-determination would resonate with American audiences on the 100th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, but many critics in Philadelphia found the sculpture too aggressive and racially confrontational. Popular opinion instead favored another sculpture by American artist Thomas Ball that depicted an African American man with a similar broken shackle and copy of the Emancipation Proclamation crouching at the feet of Abraham Lincoln in gratitude for his freedom. Unable to find an American buyer for his sculpture, Pezzicar shipped it back to Italy where it eventually ended up in the Revoltella Museum in Trieste.   

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