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
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.
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.
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.