Kemo, Kimo

KemoKimo

Location: American Song Sheets Collection, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina

Title of Song: Kemo, Kimo

Publisher: J.H. Johnson

Year & Place: circa 1854, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Collection/Call Number: American Song Sheets, Broadsides, Box 2, bsvg200815

American Song Sheets Item #: bsvg200815

Basic Description

The engraving at the head of this broadside is of a woman, who wears a tall bonnet decorated with multiple bows, and a dress with puffy sleeves and a tight-fitting, lace-up bodice.  Seated on a low bench, the woman turns her upper body to the right while strumming on a guitar.

Personal Description

The engraver’s rendering is derived from stock illustrations in the antebellum period of an ostentatious African American woman: a characterization which appeared on selected broadsides and sheet music covers in New York and Philadelphia beginning in the 1840s.  A female counterpart to the Zip Coons and other male dandy personas in blackface minstrelsy, this woman’s indiscretions are literally enmeshed within her fancy ribbons, lacework, and bows.

Reality Check

ElizMontier

Elizabeth Brown Montier (1820-ca. 1858)

Little is known of Elizabeth Brown Montier, apart from her being married, circa 1841, to Philadelphia bootmaker Hiram Montier, a direct descendant of Philadelphia’s first mayor, Richard Morrey.  The couple lived in the city’s Northern Liberties neighborhood, and Montier’s shop was on NW 7th Street.  This portrait, along with a companion portrait of Hiram Montier, was painted by Philadelphia artist Franklin R. Street, and may have been created on the occasion of the couple’s marriage.

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