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Michael Bieze

artist, was born in Colquitt County, Georgia, son of John Henry Adams, a former slave and preacher in the Methodist Church, and Mittie Rouse. Many questions surround Adams's early life. While he reported in an Atlanta Constitution article (23 June 1902) that he came from a humble background, his father served parishes throughout Georgia. According to the History of the American Negro and His Institutions (1917), Adams Sr. was a man of accomplishment, leading black Georgians in a colony in Liberia for two years and receiving two honorary doctorates, from Bethany College and Morris Brown University. Educated in Atlanta schools, Adams claimed in the Atlanta Constitution article to have traveled to Philadelphia in the late 1890s to take art classes at the Drexel Institute of Art, Science, and Industry (later Drexel University). Drexel, established in 1891 opened its doors to a diverse student ...

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Diane Mutti Burke

fugitive slave, was born near Richmond, Virginia, on a plantation owned by the Delaney family. Despite his memories of being well treated, his father, Aleck, was sold to pay his master's debts and taken south. Rev. Delaney justified Aleck's sale by claiming that the literate slave had shared ideas about freedom with other slaves in the neighborhood. When Rev. Delaney died in 1831, Alexander's mother, Chloe, was left to Mrs. Delaney, and eighteen-year-old Alexander was left to the master's son, Thomas. Chloe Alexander died six months after Thomas Delaney took her son with him to Missouri.

Delaney settled in western St Charles County Missouri where Alexander married a local slave woman named Louisa He later sold Alexander to Louisa s master Jim Hollman when he moved from the state and the couple spent the next twenty years living with their growing family on the Hollman farm Alexander was ...

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Charles L. Hughes

singer and member of the Supremes, was born in Rosetta, Mississippi, the eighth child of Jessie and Lurlee Ballard. In 1953 the Ballards, following the Great Migration path taken by millions of African Americans, moved to Detroit, Michigan, where Jessie Ballard worked in an automobile factory until his death in 1959. The family lived in the Brewster-Douglass Projects, and Ballard's powerful singing voice distinguished her both in school and around the neighborhood. Two of her neighbors, Eddie Kendricks and Paul Williams, who were members of the local singing group the Primes, told their manager, Milton Jenkins, about Ballard, and Jenkins was impressed enough to book Ballard—still in her teens—as a solo act at the Primes' performances.

This early connection between Ballard and the Primes is vitally important both to Ballard s career and to the history of American popular music for two reasons First the Primes would ...

Article

Christopher Campbell

London‐born poet, printer, visionary, and ‘prophet against empire’. Over the course of his lifetime Blake confronted the horrors of slavery through his literary and pictorial art. He was able both to counter pro‐slavery propaganda and to complicate typical abolitionist verse and sentiment with a profound and unique exploration of the effects of enslavement and the varied processes of empire.

Blake's poem ‘The Little Black Boy’ from Songs of Innocence (1789 examines the mind forg d manacles of racial constructions in the minds of individuals both in the poem itself in the form of the black child and his white counterpart and also in the minds of those involved in the political dispute over abolition Seeming to explain a desire for racial acceptance and spiritual purity through assimilation into white British society and seeming also to be endorsing conventional assumptions of white racial superiority the poem ...

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Susan B. Iwanisziw

commercial painter, artist, and activist, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the only known child of Jeremiah Bowser from Maryland and Rachel Bustill, daughter of the prosperous black abolitionist and educator Cyrus Bustill. The intermarriage among the region's free black Quaker families headed by Cyrus Bustill, Robert Douglass Sr., Jeremiah Bowser, and David Mapps created a dynamic force that benefited all African Americans and particularly spurred David s personal growth and accomplishments Jeremiah a member of the Benezet Philosophical Society served as a steward on the Liverpool lines and later it seems he was the proprietor of an oyster house near the intersection of 4th and Cherry Streets where David Bowser first hung up his sign as a commercial painter Later the Bowser family moved to the Northern Liberties section of Philadelphia into a house at 481 North 4th Street where Bowser remained for the ...

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Lydia Milagros González García

was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on 23 December 1751 to Tomás de Rivafrecha y Campeche, a painter, decorator, and gilder, and María Jordán y Marqués, a free white woman. Tomás was a black man and former slave who had purchased his freedom from his slaveowner, Cathedral Canon Don Juan de Rivafrecha. It has been assumed that José dispensed with the name Rivafrecha to be rid of the name of his father’s master and to accentuate his birth as a freeman. In historical documents, Campeche, a mulatto, was referred to as a pardo, a designation based on skin color and birth used in the Spanish casta system José s paternal ancestors black slaves have been traced back three generations but little is known of his mother s family except that she probably came from a family of artists and craftspeople from Tenerife in the Canary Islands located ...

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Carlos Dalmau

Born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Campeche was the son of a free black father and a Spanish-born mother. Campeche started drawing at an early age, influenced by his father, who was an artisan. He later had contact with the Spanish painter Luis Paret, who was exiled for three years (1775–1778) in Puerto Rico. Paret, a more experienced and formally trained painter, greatly influenced the style of the gifted Campeche.

Campeche is best known for his paintings of religious images and political figures. Among his works we find some of the first artistic representations of blacks in colonial slave society: the Exvoto de la Sagrada Familia (around 1800, Institute of Puerto Rican Culture Collection) and the street scene in Gobernador Ustariz (1789–1792, Institute of Puerto Rican Culture Collection). Another example is the artist's lost Self-Portrait that survives in two copies done by Ramón ...

Article

Matthew Francis Rarey

was likely born into slavery in the captaincy of Bahia, in the Portuguese colony of Brazil. Little is known of his background or family life. By the second half of the eighteenth-century Chagas had emerged as one of the most important sculptors of the Bahian baroque style and one of two influential baroque religious sculptors of African descent, along with Antônio Francisco Lisboa, “O Aleijadinho” (1730 or 1738–1814), a prolific sculptor active in the captaincy of Minas Gerais. In twentieth-century scholarship, Chagas is frequently known by the nickname “O Cabra” (The Goat), a Portuguese colonial term for a person born to one black and one mulata/o parent. However, this appellation for Chagas does not predate its use by art historian Manuel Querino (1911), casting doubt on its historicity in Chagas’s own life.

By about 1750 Chagas had gained his freedom and found work as ...

Article

Maria Elisa Velazquez

was born in 1646 in what is now Mexico City. His father, also named Juan Correa, was a prestigious barber-surgeon of the Holy Inquisition, a native of Mexico City, and the son of a Spaniard and a woman from Cádiz, who was probably mulatta or morisca (a term used for Spanish Muslims who converted to Christianity, presumably by coercion), although to date no documents exist to confirm this. The mother of the younger Juan Correa was Pascuala de Santoyo, a morena libre (free black) who had two extramarital children by an illegitimate union at the time that she married the doctor. Juan the elder and Pascuala had two sons, José, a master gilder, and Juan Correa.

Generally Correa treated religious themes in his art and in many cases his works were copies of European pieces as was the custom at that time Recognized and appreciated by colonial elites in the ...

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Phoebe Wolfskill

painter, illustrator, and graphic artist, was born in Brooklyn, New York, the second oldest of nine children of Herbert and Irene Crichlow, immigrants from Barbados. Using his bricklaying and plastering skills, Crichlow's father made beautiful, patterned ceiling decorations that Ernest recalled as his earliest artistic inspiration. In the 1920s Crichlow won his first artistic commission: a neighborhood preacher paid him and a close friend to paint a black Jesus on a window shade. Not only did this assignment encourage Crichlow to pursue a career in art, it also marked the beginning of his work with black subjects.

Realizing Crichlow's artistic potential, his art teachers at Haaren High School in Brooklyn raised money for a scholarship for him to attend the School of Commercial Illustrating and Advertising Art in Manhattan. In a 1968 interview Crichlow recalled that he left school during the height of the Depression but whether this ...

Article

Matthew Francis Rarey

was born into slavery in Rio de Janeiro, in the Portuguese colony of Brazil. At the time of Cunha’s birth, his mother, an enslaved woman of African descent, was working for the family of the Januário da Cunha Barbosa, a conêgo (canon priest). Manuel was given the priest’s surname. Cunha showed a talent for painting from an early age and, despite his enslaved status, began to study with João de Sousa (fl. eighteenth century), an established religious painter in colonial Rio. While Cunha was his student, Sousa likely also taught Leandro Joaquim (c. 1738–c. 1798), a mulatto painter also active in Rio. Sousa’s mastery of Brazilian baroque painting and many commissions for the city’s churches and religious orders helped to influence Cunha’s style and likely helped to expand Cunha’s professional connections.

In 1757 likely under Sousa s tutelage Cunha completed his most famous work a half length portrait of ...

Article

was born in Havana, Cuba, on 15 September 1734. Escalera may have been among the many freemen of African descent in Havana toward the end of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries who had come to dominate the trades in the city, such as blacksmithing, carpentry, painting, and sculpture. Some documents found in the archives of the Havana Cathedral hold Escalera to be an español (a man of Spanish descent) born to parents who were Cuban and Spanish whites. Aside from these few and inconclusive details regarding his racial identity, we know very little about his personal life.

Escalera is the first prolific Cuban colonial painter whom we know by name. He made his career amid commercial growth in the eighteenth-century Atlantic world and within the Spanish Empire, boosted by the reformist agendas of Charles III that followed the Seven Years’ War in 1763 Bureaucratic and military reforms ...

Article

Patricia Brady

sculptor and proprietor of a large marble yard and monument business, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, the eldest son and third child of [René] Prosper Foy (b. 1787–d. 1854), a Napoleonic veteran, marble cutter, businessman, and writer, who had immigrated to the city from France in 1807, and Azelie Aubry (b. c. 1795–d. 1870), a free woman of color, native to New Orleans. Because interracial marriage was illegal, Foy's parents never married, but their sometimes stormy union lasted from 1810 until Prosper Foy's death; Aubry subsequently referred to herself in all public documents as his widow. The elder Prosper Foy prospered in business and fought with distinction at the Battle of New Orleans in 1815. Of Foy and Aubry's children, four daughters and Florville lived to adulthood.

Florville studied with a private tutor, and all the children were well educated, judging by their copybooks and letters. In 1836 ...

Article

Donovan S. Weight

entrepreneur, pioneer, and town founder, was born near the Pacolet River in Union County, South Carolina, the son of an enslaved woman named Juda. His paternity is a bit murky, but most evidence points to his owner George McWhorter. Little information exists about the West African–born Juda other than that she had been a slave to the McWhorters since 1775. Oral family tradition holds that although George McWhorter sent Juda to the woods with orders to kill the baby at birth, Juda protected Frank, preserved him, and brought him home alive the next morning. The boy who would become Free Frank spent his-formative years learning how to farm in the backwoods country of South Carolina. At eighteen Frank moved with his owner to a temporary homestead in-Lincoln County, Kentucky. In 1798 George McWhorter bought some farmland in newly formed Pulaski County Kentucky In ...

Article

María de Lourdes Ghidoli

of whom, to this day, no works are known of his authorship. Despite this, historians of Argentine art consider him the first painter born in Buenos Aires and have called him the “painter of unknown works,” and thus much speculation exists about his biography.

Gayoso was born in Buenos Aires during the last decades of the eighteenth century. According to his own words, his father was Spanish and his mother was a mulatta. He was a slave of Juan Martín de Pueyrredón, a soldier and Argentine politician, and one of the key figures in the revolutionary period. After the declaration of Argentine independence on 9 July 1816, Pueyrredón was named Supreme Leader of the United Provinces of Río de la Plata, a position he occupied until June 1819 Little is known of the circumstances under which the soldier bought Gayoso but it is known that he paid 300 ...

Article

Lisa E. Rivo

artist, was born in Tupelo, Mississippi, the seventh of eight children of Sam Gilliam, a carpenter and truck driver, and Estery C. Cousin, a schoolteacher. Around 1942 the Gilliams moved to Louisville, Kentucky, where Sam's artistic promise was encouraged by his parents and his teachers at Virginia Avenue Elementary School, Madison Junior High School, and Central High School, all segregated public facilities. Following high school graduation in 1951, he enrolled at the newly desegregated University of Louisville, earning a BA in Fine Arts in 1955. After serving two years in the U.S. Army, he returned to the University of Louisville and completed an MA in Painting in 1961 The following year Gilliam moved to Washington D C and married the journalist Dorothy Butler Over the next several years they had three daughters For the next twenty five years Gilliam worked as a teacher first ...

Article

David Dabydeen

The most prolific painter and engraver of Blacks in 18th‐century British art. They figure in each of his major satirical series, from A Harlot's Progress of 1732 to the Election pictures of the 1750s. They are depicted as prostitutes, lovers, fairground entertainers, strolling actresses, household pets, thieves, and servants, the variety of their occupations suggesting the ubiquity of the black presence in 18th‐century Britain.

The black figure is a detail pregnant with meaning in Hogarth's work, an intricate part of its elaborate narrative structure. Blacks are used to expose the sexual, cultural, and economic corruption of upper‐class life. In pictures like The Four Stages of Cruelty (1750–1 the brutishness of English society is gauged by references to the savage practices of Africans and American Indians Hogarth consciously employs myths about Blacks relating to their sexuality paganism and simian ancestry so as to comment on the morality of the ...

Article

Matthew Francis Rarey

was born in Salvador da Bahia, then capital of the Portuguese colony of Brazil, to António Feliciano Borges and Josefa de Santana. A pardo described as forro (freed), Jesus began his artistic career in the third quarter of the eighteenth century, a period of high artistic output for Bahia’s many artists of color, such as Francisco das Chagas (fl. eighteenth century). Early in his life, Jesus began studying with noted Bahian painter José Joaquim da Rocha (1737–1807) and worked as a painter’s assistant and gilder on a number of Rocha’s projects in Salvador.

In 1788 Jesus entered military service with Salvador s Fourth Artillery Regiment Later Rocha paid for Jesus to study painting at the Escola das Belas Artes School of Fine Arts in Lisbon To supplement Rocha s offer Jesus took out a loan from Salvador s Santa Casa de Misericórdia Holy House of Mercy a ...

Article

Amy J. Buono

was born around 1738 in Rio de Janeiro. Historians and critics consider Joaquim to be one of the most important and innovative artists working in late-colonial Rio, largely because of his secular subject matter, colorful palette, and pioneering role in a “native” representation of the Brazilian landscape. Although details of his early life, including his birth date and parentage are obscure, the first clue as to his Afro-descent comes from nineteenth-century historian Cunha Barbosa (Leite, 2010, p. 373). Until his death in his eighties, Joaquim lived and worked in his native Rio. He trained under the artist João de Sousa and was a member of the Fluminense School of painting, the name given to the most prominent group of artists active in Rio de Janeiro during the eighteenth century.

Joaquim s artistic production coincided with a shift of the center of Brazil s economic political and cultural political ...

Article

J. Susan Isaacs

painter, was probably born in the West Indies. It is now generally believed by scholars of American art and history that Johnson was black and may have come to this country as a young man, probably as a slave. Johnson might be identified as the “negro boy” mentioned in the 1777 will of Captain Robert Polk of Maryland. This boy is thought to have been purchased by Polk's brother-in-law, the noted artist Charles Willson Peale. Stylistic resemblances between the work of Charles Willson Peale and Joshua Johnson are apparent. Unfortunately, very little documentation on Johnson exists, and identification of his works is accomplished through provenance (mostly oral family tradition), and connoisseurship—observation of technique, subject matter, iconography, and style.

Johnson s artistic career spanned nearly thirty years during which he worked only in Baltimore painting portraits of many of its citizens Like many artists of the period he more ...