Inscribed, in graphite, on paper formerly encased with image: Aunt Tillie Saterwhile / on mother's side. She of / Cherokee blood.
This simply-composed image and its plainly-attired subject are typical of daguerreotype portraits made for a middle class clientele, especially in more rural areas. The book she holds is a common prop suggestive of literacy and, if identifiable as a Bible, Christian faith.
A note enclosed with this daguerreotype refers to the subject as “Aunt Tillie Saterwhite [sic] . . . of Cherokee blood.” She may well be Matilda C. Satterwhite (1835–1901), who, according to the 1860 U.S. Census, was 23 at that time and living with her parents on their farm in Newberry, South Carolina. Although there is no documentation of Cherokee ancestry in her parents or grandparents, Newberry County had been Cherokee hunting grounds until the mid-1700s. At that time hostilities between the Cherokee and settlers ensued and lasted until 1761, when the Treaty of Charleston barred Cherokee occupation of the midlands. Although whites and enslaved African Americans made up most of the population in later years, a number of citizens had at least partial Cherokee heritage. As of 1990, there were over 300,000 Cherokee in South Carolina.
From the 2019 exhibition American Art, Colonial to Modern, curated by Barbara J. MacAdam, Jonathan L. Cohen Curator of American Art
Writing Program 5.25, Photographic Representations, Amanda Wetsel, Winter 2023
Writing Program 5.24, Photographic Representations, Amanda Wetsel, Winter 2023
American Art, Colonial to Modern, Israel Sack Gallery and Rush Family Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, January 26-July 21, 2019.
Cowan Auctions, Inc., American History Sale, lot 17, June 13, 2014, Cincinnati, Ohio, sold to Michael Mattis and Judy Hochberg, Scarsdale, New York; on consignment to Gregory French, Early Photography, Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts; sold to present collection, 2016.
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