Philadelphia Museum of Art Custom Prints



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About the Artwork

In this portrait, an older man looks directly at us with a gentle smile. There is wisdom in his eyes and warmth in his expression. His rosy cheeks and the glint in his eyes suggest his lively personality. He wears a blue coat with shiny brass buttons and a heavy overcoat, indicating he may have just come in from the cold. His knit cap suggests a kufi, a hat traditionally worn by African Muslim men.

Yarrow Mamout (around 1736–1823) was brought in bondage from Guinea in West Africa to Maryland around 1752, when he was a teenager (see map on page 4). By the time this portrait was made, he had endured forty-five years of enslavement, gained his freedom, purchased his son’s freedom, bought a house, and held stock in a bank. Devoted to his Muslim faith throughout his life, Mamout was literate in both Arabic and English.

In the winter of 1818–19, the artist Charles Willson Peale traveled to Washington, DC, the nation’s capital, to paint portraits of prominent figures for exhibition in his museum in Philadelphia. While there, he heard about Yarrow Mamout, who was rumored to be 140 years old (though he was actually around 83). Peale was 77 years old at the time and was interested in what contributed to a long, healthy life. He set out to find Mamout and paint his picture.

Yarrow Mamout was manumitted (legally freed) in the 1790s, becoming a well-known member of the capital’s Free Black community of about 400 people in the Georgetown neighborhood. He reportedly worked for fixed wages during the day and spent nights making nets, baskets, and other items for sale. When he died in 1823, his obituary read, “it is known to all that knew him, that he was industrious, honest, and moral.” Peale displayed this portrait in his museum to illustrate such character. Two centuries later, Mamout remains a role model of perseverance and strength.

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About Our Prints

Philadelphia Museum of Art Custom Prints offers exclusive custom reproductions of artworks in the collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Hand-made in the USA using gallery-quality materials, we create prints as true to the original work as possible, using strict color management protocols and state-of-the-art printing technology.
Many of the works offered through this store are exclusive and not available anywhere else. In addition, new works are continually added to the offering so make sure to come back and see the new releases.
You have found the work that speaks to you. Now what? Using our innovative custom framing tool you can preview exactly what your finished and framed art will look like. We offer many different moulding styles so there is sure to be a match for any type of decor.

Member Discounts

As always, members will receive their discount for all transactions processed through our Custom Prints store. Simply enter your Member ID during the checkout process and your discount will be applied.