Boston Art Commission

« back

Click on thumbnails to view additional images of this piece:
  • EmancipationGrp_web

The Emancipation Group

Artist:

Thomas Ball

Location:

Park Square, Park Plaza  

Location

Park Square, Park Plaza
United States
42° 21' 5.7384" N, 71° 4' 4.2816" W

Neighborhood:

Back Bay

Type:

Sculpture

Year:

1879

Medium:

Bronze and Granite

Collection:

City of Boston

Funders:

Unknown

Description:

The Emancipation Group celebrates President Abraham Lincoln and his Emancipation Proclamation, which ended slavery in all territories controlled by the United States. The sculptor, Thomas Ball, portrays Lincoln looking from the proclamation in his right hand to a newly freed slave, who with chains broken is about to stand up a free man. This figure is a portrait of Archer Alexander, a former slave who risked his life to notify the Union army that Confederates had sabotaged a railroad bridge over which Union troops were planning to travel. Fearing retribution, Alexander fled. He is believed to be one of the last individuals captured under the Fugitive Slave Act.

Sculptor Thomas Ball has been criticized for representing Alexander as kneeling at Lincoln’s feet. But others might interpret the work differently and claim that Alexander’s posture is not that of a kneeling man but of one rising to claim his new freedom. The Emancipation Group was given to Boston in 1879 by Moses Kimball, a local politician and founder of the no-longer extant Boston Museum. It is a duplicate of the monument paid for by donations from former slaves, and erected in Washington, DC, in 1874.

Audio Description: