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Thomas Bethune

Thomas Bethune
Sarony, Major & Knapp, active 1856 - 1867
Horace Waters, ? - 1893
Thomas Greene Wiggins, 25 May 1849 - 13 Jun 1908
Lithograph on paper
Sheet: 34 x 25.8 cm (13 3/8 x 10 3/16")
Home Furnishings\Furniture\Table
Sheet music
Thomas Greene Wiggins: Male
Thomas Greene Wiggins: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician
Thomas Greene Wiggins: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Composer
Thomas Greene Wiggins: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Pianist
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
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Exhibition Label
Born Thomas Greene Wiggins, the blind son of two slaves owned by Colonel James Bethune, “Blind Tom” became famous as a musical savant at a young age. Bethune presented Wiggins throughout Georgia before hiring him out to tour across the country. Wiggins played for President James Buchanan in 1860; the Bethunes also offered his talents to the Confederacy during the Civil War. After emancipation, Bethune convinced Wiggins’s parents to appoint him Tom’s legal guardian. Wiggins earned a fortune for his guardians and remained under the care of Bethune family members for the rest of his life.
He was known not only as a skilled performer—he could sing in multiple languages and play a piece of music after hearing it once—but also as a composer of more than one hundred piano and vocal compositions. This portrait appears on the cover of his composition entitled “The Oliver Gallop,” named after Perry Oliver, one of his promoters.
Thomas Greene Wiggins, el hijo ciego de dos esclavos propiedad del coronel James Bethune, apodado “El Ciego Tom”, se volvió famoso como savant musical desde pequeño. Bethune llevó a Wiggins por todo el estado de Georgia dando recitales antes de arrendarlo para giras por todo el país. Wiggins tocó para el presidente James Buchanan en 1860. La familia Bethune también ofreció sus talentos a la Confederación durante la Guerra Civil de Estados Unidos. Después de la emancipación, Bethune convenció a los padres de Wiggins para que le otorgaran su tutela. Wiggins ganó una fortuna para sus tutores y permaneció bajo la supervisión de los miembros de la familia Bethune por el resto de su vida.
Fue conocido no solo como intérprete talentoso —podía cantar en varios idiomas y tocar una pieza musical después de oírla una sola vez—, sino también como compositor de más de cien obras para piano y
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery