"How I Looked in the World": Introducing the Bust of Frederick Douglass

Posted by Kayla Fletcher on

To close out Black History Month, we have a special announcement. We have added to our historic collection the bust of human rights advocate Frederick Douglass, sculpted by Johnson Mundy in the late 1800s. It’s a remarkable piece that we helped the Providence Athenaeum reproduce from the original marble.

Photo of white plaster cast sculpture bust of Frederick Douglass with beard and in suit coat with toga over one shoulder and a green book stacked atop a red book beside it on dark gray background

Douglass himself enjoyed the sculpture, writing to Mundy, “I am content to be made known through this specimen of your art to all who may come after me, and who may wish to know how I looked in the world.”

To accomplish the reproduction, we used a series of techniques, including 3D printing, sculpting, and mold-making. You can read about this process and the bust’s original creation on the item page for Item #440 Frederick Douglass as well as brief biographies on both the sculptor and Douglass.

Photo of red-colored clay model of Frederick Douglass bust with beard and in suit coat with toga over one shoulder on a dark gray background
In-progress photo of the model 

The Providence Athenaeum generously granted us permission to add the reproduced Frederick Douglass bust to our collection and to produce copies for our customers. The Caproni Collection and the Athenaeum realize the importance of diversifying the figures represented in both of our collections and in making available to a wider audience Mundy’s beautiful artwork of a well-known and respected figure in American history.

Douglass’s birthday is one of the reasons Americans observe Black History Month in February; his birth date being unknown, Douglass decided to celebrate it on February 14th. So this Black History Month, we are thrilled to have this piece in our cast collection and to make it available to our customers. We will strive to continue adding sculptures of people of different races, ethnicities, and genders in order to make the collection more inclusive.



*Please note: Sources used can be found on the item page. 

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