Exhibitions/ Art Object
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[File Drawer with 46 Mugshots of Shoplifters]

Artist:
Unknown (American)
Date:
1936–47
Medium:
Gelatin silver prints
Dimensions:
Each photograph, approx.: 3 × 5 in. (7.6 × 12.7 cm) Drawer: 47 × 25.1 × 1.6 cm (18 1/2 × 9 7/8 × 5/8 in.)
Classification:
Photographs
Credit Line:
The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Fund, through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 2013
Accession Number:
2013.949a–tt
Not on view
This wooden file drawer contains identification cards with tipped-in mug shots of forty-six mostly female shoplifters apprehended in the late 1930s and 1940s near Baltimore, Maryland. Although they were created as utilitarian instruments, the photographs survive as extraordinary visual artifacts—unvarnished portraits of individuals whose faces convey a potent blend of vulnerability, boredom, and defiance.
Inscription: Photographs are accompanied by descriptive cards listing the offender's name, address, race, age, crime, date of crime, case number, and other pertinent details. Some photographs also have stamps, typescript, and/or inscriptions on the verso listing these details.
[...]; Mark Michaelson, New York; (Swann Galleries, October 17, 2013, lot 59); [Winter Works on Paper, New York]

Mugshots are primarily from the Baltimore, Maryland Police Department, with others from Washington, DC and a few unidentified.
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