Lot 77
  • 77

Anonymous American Photographer

2,000 - 3,000 USD
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  • Anonymous American Photographer
  • Tintype
sixth-plate tintype, in a half-case, circa 1860s-70s

Catalogue Note

This surprising tintype shows two young musicians—one white, one African-American—holding their instruments: a likely-homemade fretless five-string banjo, and a simple store-bought fiddle.  Early photographs of interracial musical groups are rare, and this image is a tangible document of the connection between European and African musical cultures, the blending of which created a uniquely American sound.  Neither white American nor African-American music developed in a vacuum; the musical conversation which influenced the development of the blues, bluegrass, jazz, country music, and rock and roll, began in the 19th century, as this tintype illustrates so eloquently.  It is noteworthy that the white man plays the banjo, an instrument evolved from African gourd instruments brought to this country by slaves, while the African-American man plays the violin, an instrument of European musical traditions.