The Graduate Center - City University of New York

Hiram Revels

Louis Prang, a Boston-based printer, began to mass produce color prints (chromolithographs) of paintings by famous artists in 1866. L. Prang and Company also printed greeting cards, trade cards, toy books and games, and fine art books. His chromolithographs created a large market for prints across the country with advertisements offering “the democracy of art.” In 1870, the company issued a chromolithograph of Theodore Kaufmann’s oil portrait of Mississippi Senator Hiram R. Revels, the first African-American U.S. senator. In a letter to Prang, the prominent abolitionist Frederick Douglass extolled the virtues of the portrait. Concluding his letter, Douglass wrote: “This portrait, representing truly, as it does, the face and form of our first colored U.S. Senator, is a historical picture. It marks, with almost startling emphasis, the point dividing our new from our old condition. Every colored householder in the land should have one of these portraits in his parlor, and should explain it to his children, as the dividing line between the darkness and despair that overhung our past, and the light and hope that now beam upon our future as a people.”

Creator: Theodore Kaufmann

Date: 1870

Publisher: Boston: Louis Prang and Company

Source: Boston Public Library