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Oliver Caswell

Oliver Caswell
Auguste Edouart, 1788 - 1861
Oliver Caswell, 1830 - 1896
Lithograph, chalk and cut paper on paper
Image/Sheet: 23.6 × 16.8 cm (9 5/16 × 6 5/8")
Frame: 47.9 × 37.8 × 3.2 cm (18 7/8 × 14 7/8 × 1 1/4")
Home Furnishings\Furniture\Seating\Chair
Interior\Interior with Exterior View
Home Furnishings\Furniture\Table
Home Furnishings\Dishes\Saucer
Home Furnishings\Drinking vessel\Cup
Oliver Caswell: Male
Oliver Caswell: Education\Student
Oliver Caswell: Society and Social Change\Person with disability\Blind
Oliver Caswell: Society and Social Change\Person with disability\Deaf
United States\Massachusetts\Suffolk\Boston
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Robert L. McNeil, Jr.
Restrictions & Rights
Object number
Exhibition Label
Auguste Edouart describes Oliver Caswell as “blind, deaf, and dumb,” but despite being unable to see or hear, Caswell did learn to speak. Dr. Samuel Howe, who directed the Perkins Institution and Massachusetts School for the Blind, described Caswell as having “a manly, courageous temper, an amiable and affectionate heart, and a good intellect.” Caswell was often compared to student and occasional teacher Laura Bridgman, whose silhouette is also featured in this exhibition. At the Perkins Institution, Caswell learned to write, read braille, and hone his talents as a wood-worker. His diary entries from this time also reveal his engagement with everyday activities, such as playing with a friend in the rain, eating pudding, and musing over long words. Edouart captured Caswell seated at a table, fingering the tines on a fork. A teacup and toy house rest on the table in an elaborate parlor.
Auguste Edouart describe a Oliver Caswell como “ciego, sordo y mudo”, pero a pesar de que no podía ver ni oír, Caswell aprendió a hablar. Por su parte, el Dr. Samuel Howe, quien dirigía el Instituto Perkins y la Escuela para Ciegos de Massachusetts, lo describe como de “temperamento varonil y valiente, corazón amable y afectuoso, y buen intelecto”. A menudo se le comparaba con la estudiante y ocasional maestra Laura Bridgman, cuya silueta se incluye en esta exposición. En el Instituto Perkins, Caswell aprendió a escribir, a leer en braille y a refinar su talento como ebanista. Su diario de esa época también revela que disfrutaba de actividades cotidianas como jugar con algún amigo bajo la lluvia, comer pudín y cavilar sobre palabras largas. Edouart capta a Caswell sentado a la mesa, tocando los dientes de un tenedor. La escena transcurre en un salón elaborado y sobre la mesa hay una taza de té y una casa de juguete.
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery