Lithographic Print- Nanette Fortin
Nanette Fortin, Sitter
Pointel du Portrail, Artist
New Orleans, Louisiana
Ink on paper
35.6 x 27.3 cm
The Collection of Oak Alley Foundation
Artist signature directly beneath print on the proper right side
Handwriting in bottom, proper left corner
Collection specification in bottom, proper left corner
“Big House” exhibit
Born into slavery, Nanette Fortin died a free woman. The reasons for taking the “Fortin” name, leaving her former owners as beneficiaries, and crossing so many family lines are vast to say the least. Whether out of necessity or choice, this artwork and her last will and testament are, in fact, testaments to how Nanette viewed herself as both a woman and human. She was more than someone’s property. By sitting for this lithograph, Nanette is saying to the world that she is worth remembering. As photographs document who we are today and oil paintings of great leaders once did, this lithograph was meant to show the very human nature of this once enslaved woman. The proof of her pride can be seen in the set of her shoulders and expression. Although she is an older woman, she is still strong and confident.
With the translation of the writing on this lithograph, we know that she was the guardian and personal servant to Francoise Aimée Parent, wife of A.B. Roman. It is currently unknown as to who emancipated her, but taking directions from her surname, we can assume she moved through Aimée’s sister’s ownership as Jeanne Celeste Parent married Louis Fortin. To further support this idea, we know that Nanette died at the house of Dr. Charles Daret, the grandson-in-law to Jeanne and Louis. In Nanette’s will, she states that Marie Celeste Duplantier, Daret’s wife, and Francoise Aimée Roman are her beneficiaries. While Alfred Roman, A.B.’s brother, is the executor of her estate.
In the bottom, proper left corner, the words, “Vieille ma Nanette | gardienne de Grandmaman A.B. Roman,” translated into, “Old Nanette | Guardian of Grandmother A. B. Roman.”