Painted Tintype of a Portrait of Horace Walker

Adopt an Artifact – Painted Tintype of a Portrait of Horace Walker

Painted Tintype of a Portrait of Horace Walker (1828-1872)


Ca. 1870s

Oil on tin over a photograph

Purchased by the Historical Acquisitions funds from an art gallery in Nashville, TN in 2001 (2001.4)

Total Conservation Cost: $3,080

This painted tintype of Horace Walker is a rare and important piece that documents the free Black experience in a post-emancipation world. The object itself plays a significant role in the documentation of painted tintypes, which were an immensely popular artform during this period. A tintype or ferrotype is a photograph made by creating a direct image onto a thin sheet of metal. From about 1860 onwards, tintypes grew in popularity throughout all social classes, as they were inexpensive, and easy to make. The images were black and white, giving the now largely out of work itinerant portrait painters a newfound opportunity to flesh out the sitters and bring them to life—creating a new genre of American Folk Art painting.

This work was surveyed for conservation by Wendy Partridge with the ICA-Art Conservation. Wendy’s suggestions for repairs are:

There are small paint losses in the upper and lower right corners. This work appears to have been in an oval-shaped frame at one time, and there is abrasion to the paint layer from this frame. If the piece is varnished, the varnish is no longer saturating the dark passages. If not, the dark paint itself appears hazy. The piece needs a surface cleaning, a stable, reversible varnish, and inpainting for the losses and disfigurements.

This project has been ADOPTED! Thank you to the donor for helping us preserve this important piece of Ohio Valley History.