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Not Human (excerpt), by Brandon Latu


Rufus Choate

Southworth and Hawes (American, active 1843–1863)

Albert Sands Southworth (American, West Fairlee, Vermont 1811–1894 Charlestown, Massachusetts)
Josiah Johnson Hawes (American, Wayland, Massachusetts 1808–1901 Crawford Notch, New Hampshire)
ca. 1850
20.4 x 15.3 cm (8 x 6 in.)
Credit Line:
Gift of I. N. Phelps Stokes, Edward S. Hawes, Alice Mary Hawes, and Marion Augusta Hawes, 1937
Accession Number:
  • Description

    Rufus Choate (1799-1859), one of America's most capable lawyers and statesmen, served in both the state and federal government and was known for his classical orations. It is not surprising that Southworth & Hawes, whose studio adjoined Choate's law office, asked him to pose. Only after repeated requests from the photographers, who promised the sitting would take only fifteen minutes, did the busy lawyer agree. On the appointed day, Choate posed four or five times with the appropriate props-a law book and a bust of an orator-before rushing back to his client-filled office. Choate's famous wild locks, disheveled clothing, and haggard features are recorded in this faithful portrait of an overworked man who frequently suffered from debilitating headaches yet was driven by a prodigious nervous energy and an intense love of his profession.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Marking: Hallmark, BR: S&F in lozenge (see Spirit of Fact #4, p. 152)

  • Provenance

    Edward S. Hawes, Alice Mary Hawes, and Marion Augusta Hawes; [Holman's Print Shop, Boston]; I.N. Phelps Stokes, New York, 1937

  • Notes

    Choate's law office adjoined Southworth and Hawes's studio.

    Biography: American lawyer and politician Rufus Choate (1799-1859), renowned for his elegant oratorical style, served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives (1825-26), the state senate (1827), and the U.S. Congress as a Whig (1830-34), before establishing a law practice in Boston (his office adjoined the studio of Southworth and Hawes). He was a faithful supporter of Daniel Webster and lobbied for his presidential nomination in 1852. He backed the Comprimise of 1850; his opposition to slavery stopped short of supporting a war between North and South, and he refused to join thr Republican Party.

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History