1958.0120.002 A, B Painting, and Frame, overall
  • 1958.0120.002 A, B Painting, and Frame, overall
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  • Title:

    Liberty Displaying the Arts and Sciences

  • Category:


  • Creator (Role):

    Samuel Jennings (Painter)

  • Place of Origin:

    London, London, England, United Kingdom, Europe

  • Date:


  • Materials:

    Oil paint; Canvas; Spruce

  • Techniques:


  • Museum Object Number:

    1958.0120.002 A

  • Complete Details

Object Number

1958.0120.002 A

Object Name



Liberty Displaying the Arts and Sciences



Credit Line/Donor

Museum purchase with funds provided by Henry Francis du Pont

Creator (Role)

Samuel Jennings (Painter)
Samuel Jennings (active 1789-1834) was a native Philadelphian who spent most of his life painting in England. Scant details of his early life are known; it is believed that he was born c. 1755. He attended the College of Philadelphia from 1770 to 1773. Jennings taught drawing and painted portraits and miniatures. In 1787, he traveled to London, carrying a letter of introduction from Benjamin Franklin, to study with Benjamin West. In London, his paintings were exhibited repeatedly at the Royal Academy and the British Institution. Most of these works were allegorical or history paintings. Liberty Displaying the Arts and Sciences is a landmark piece as the first painting done by an American-born artist to address the issue of slavery. While in London, Jennings learned of the construction of the new building for the Library Company of Philadelphia. He decided to celebrate this occasion by painting an allegorical picture. He wrote to his father, “I should esteem myself very happy to have the honor of presenting a Painting to the Company that would be applicable to so noble, and useful an Institution.”[1] He proposed to the Library Company’s directors a classical allegorical painting of Clio, Calliope, or Minerva. The directors, many of whom where Quakers and active in the Abolition Society, wrote that they preferred “Liberty (with her Cap and proper Insignia) displaying the arts by some of the most striking Symbols of Painting, Architecture, Mechanics, Astronomy, &ca. whilst She appears in the attitude of placing on the top of a Pedestal, a pile of Books, lettered with, Agriculture, Commerce, Philosophy & Catalogue of Philadelphia Library.”[2] The committee also stipulated the broken chains underneath the feet of Liberty. The painting is often cited for its abolitionist sentiments as well as for its significance in African American history. It remains celebrated and highly regarded for its unprecedented subject matter, as well as its significance in the Library’s history. [1] Minutes of the Library Company. Vol. 3, April 1, 1790. [2] Minutes of the Library Company. Vol. 3, May 6, 1790. http://www.librarycompany.org/artifacts/painters_jennings.htm

Place of Origin

London, London, England, United Kingdom, Europe



Mark or Signature or Inscription or Label

1. Signature; Lower right; ...Jennings/...1792


Allegory; Anti-slavery; Abolitionist; Slavery; Abolition; Anti-slavery; Slavery


Oil paint; Canvas; Spruce



Dimensions (inches)

15 (H) , 18 (W)

Dimensions (centimeters)

38.1 (H) , 45.72 (W)

Measurement Notes

Overall measurements are of canvas, from Richardson.

Object Description

Text available soon.

Bibliography and Bibliographic Notes

[Book] Cooper, Wendy A. 2002 An American Vision: Henry Francis du Pont's Winterthur Museum.
Published as fig. 31, pp. 186-7.
[Book] Richardson, Edgar P. 1986 American Paintings and Related Pictures in the Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum.
Published as cat. no. 43, pp. 84-5.
[Article] Smith, Robert C. 1965 Liberty Displaying the Arts and Sciences: A Philadelphia Allegory by Samuel Jennings. Winterthur Portfolio. 2: 84-105.

[Book] Mazow, Leo. 2006 Picturing the Banjo.
Illustrated and in the companion exhibition.
[Book] Dieksheide, Christa. 2014 Amelioration and Empire: Progress and Slavery in the Plantation Americas.

[Article] Casey, Emily C. 2021 A More Perfect Atlantic World: Abolition, Liberty, and Empire in Art after the American Revolution. Winterthur Portfolio. 55 (4): 207-256.
Published: pp. 211, 219, fig. 3, 5