Joseph Cinque, 1840


Painted in 1840 by Nathaniel Jocelyn. Painting held by New Haven Colony Historical Society.


This studio portrait was commissioned by Robert Purvis, a leading black abolitionist from Philadelphia; Jocelyn was an abolitionist sympathizer. Cinque is shown in a toga, rather than in traditional Mende clothing. His facial features seem to have been made less African than they actually appeared. For details on Cinque see, for example, John W. Barber, A History of the Amistad Captives (New Haven, Conn., 1840) and Mary Cable, Black Odyssey; the Case of the Slave Ship Amistad (New York, 1971). For details on this painting, see Eleanor Alexander, A Portrait of Cinque (Connecticut Historical Society Bulletin, 49 [1984], pp. 31-51)and M. Harris, Colored Pictures (Univ. of North Carolina Press, 2003), pp. 34-36. A slide of the image shown here was made from an unidentified secondary source; for a better reproduction, see Harris (above) and Hugh Honour, The Image of the Black in Western Art (Menil Foundation, Harvard University Press, 1989), vol. 4, pt. 1, p. 158, fig. 96.


Jocelyn, Nathaniel

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