The Emancipation Group

The original sculpture Freedom’s Memorial (1875) was designed by Ball in response to Abraham Lincoln’s assassination on April 15, 1865. Ball sought to represent what many consider to be President Lincoln’s greatest achievement—Proclamation 95, more commonly referred to as the Emancipation Proclamation. His sculpture depicts Lincoln standing near a pedestal clutching what appears to be the artist’s rendering of the great document in his right hand.   Below Lincoln’s outstretched left hand is a freedman gazing upward, on bended knee, still wearing the shackles from the broken chains of his former enslavement . There are at least 7 known versions with size, material and iconographic variations that were produced, in addition to the version at the Chazen Museum of Art in Wisconsin.

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Artist: Thomas Ball (American, 1819 – 1911) 
Title: Emancipation Group
Date: 1873

Medium: White Italian marble
Dimensions: 45 1/2 x 27 9/16 x 21 1/4 in. Overall
Credit: Gift of Dr. Warren E. Gilson
Chazen Accession No.: 1976.157
Classification: Sculpture
Geography: America

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”The negro here, though rising, is still on his knees and nude. What I want to see before I die is a monument representing the negro, not couchant on his knees like a four-footed animal, but erect on his feet like a man.” – Frederick Douglass