Object Image

Abigail Adams 1744–1818

Made during the first decade of the nineteenth century (before the advent of photography), this hollow-cut silhouette represents the period’s most popular form of portraiture. Because only limited visual information can be gleaned from profiles, historians often rely upon inscriptions, like the ones atop this portrait, to identify sitters. Although this silhouette was made in 1804, John Quincy Adams added the inscription in 1809, when he had it framed together with silhouettes of himself, his wife Louisa Adams, and John Adams.

National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution...

1804 (inscribed in 1809)
Hollow-cut silhouette

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