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The creation of the engraved portrait of the African-born poet Phillis Wheatley (ca. 1754–84) that was first published as the frontispiece in her 1773 book, Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral, when she was enslaved in the Boston household of John and Susanna Wheatley, has long been understood as the first printed portrait of a named African American in the British Americas. This essay challenges the veracity of this myth and examines the various ways that Black women were imaged during the late eighteenth century. It argues for the broader significance of this portrait for women's representation in an age of revolution.

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