On View: American Art Galleries, 5th Floor, From Colonies to States, 1660–1830
This wood cane displays the transference of a historical African form and technique, the staff carved with a spiraling narrative, to the Americas. Probably made by an as-yet unidentified Black craftsperson, the cane exhibits embellishments that express African American concerns following the Civil War. At the bottom, Africans are brought in chains to the United States; above, Abraham Lincoln signs the Emancipation Proclamation, and the chains are broken as Liberty leads the way under the American eagle.
35 x 4 1/2 x 1 1/2 in. (88.9 x 11.4 x 3.8cm) (show scale)
Marie Bernice Bitzer Fund and A. Augustus Healy Fund
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American. Cane, 1865-1900. Wood, metal, 35 x 4 1/2 x 1 1/2 in. (88.9 x 11.4 x 3.8cm). Brooklyn Museum, Marie Bernice Bitzer Fund and A. Augustus Healy Fund, 1996.179. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 1996.179_colorcrrected_SL1.jpg)
overall, 1996.179_colorcrrected_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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Wooden walking cane or staff, commemorative of the Emancipation Proclamation. Narrow cylindrical form tapers toward bottom; handle grip is a carved eagle holding an olive branch; upper half of cane is carved with relief decorations; lower portion is smooth with tip sheathed in metal. Carved decorations around upper portion consist of four bands which tell the story of slavery and emancipation, from bottom to top: invaders with crosses enslave Africans; slave ship traveling to America; allegorical female figure of Liberty with sword (symbolizing the Civil War) and an eagle holding banner inscribed "Liberty"; Abraham Lincoln signing the Emancipation Proclamation and a slave freed from a whipping post holding a banner that reads, "Be it known that all men shall be free!"
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