Skip to Content
Closed today, next open tomorrow. Closed today, next open tomorrow.

The Freedman

Black bronze statue of African American man, shackles broken, sitting on tree stump.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

Image actions

  • Black bronze statue of African American man, shackles broken, sitting on tree stump.


Modeled 1862–63


John Quincy Adams Ward (American, 1830–1910)

About this artwork

In the fall of 1862, shortly after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, John Quincy Adams Ward began modeling The Freedman. A supporter of abolitionism, the sculptor employed a classically inspired vocabulary to sensitively portray a Black male figure, a broken shackle on his wrist. With his right hand steadied on a tree stump behind him, the man twists his torso, the energy of his position suggesting that he is about to stand.

Ward harmonized neoclassicism with a renewed attention to realism. Here, he modeled the figure from life, transposing the particularities of an individual sitter to a subject both idealized and moralistic in tone.


On View, Gallery 171


Arts of the Americas


John Quincy Adams Ward (Sculptor)


The Freedman


United States (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

Modeled 1863




Signed on base: J.Q.A. Ward. Scp. 1863


49.9 × 40 × 23.9 cm (19 5/8 × 15 3/4 × 9 3/8 in.)

Credit Line

Roger McCormick Endowment

Reference Number


IIIF Manifest  The International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) represents a set of open standards that enables rich access to digital media from libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural institutions around the world.

Learn more.

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.


Sign up for our enewsletter to receive updates.

Learn more

Image actions