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 ...
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 ...
Amy J. Buono
Born around 1780 in Rio de Janeiro, Amaral was best known as an artist employed by the Luso-Brazilian Court in Rio. Details of Amaral’s early life and training are scant, including his parentage, but he lived and worked in Rio, where he studied under the artist José Leandro de Carvalho (c. 1770–1834). Amaral continued his studies at the officially sanctioned course of painting and drawing in Rio created by the Marquis of Aguiar (Fernando José de Portugal e Castro, viceroy between 1801 and 1806 The school was administered by the painter Manuel da Costa de Oliveira with whom Amaral studied stage design He also worked as the assistant of José Leandro at the São João Theater Amaral s talents were quickly recognized and he was summoned to do decorative work for the court leaving the theater behind Amaral s oeuvre is especially noteworthy in that it bridged the ...
artist, was born in Madison, Georgia, the second of ten children of Viola Perryman and George Andrews, sharecroppers. Benny Andrews grew up in a household where creativity was encouraged. With what little money they had, his parents bought pens and paper for their children and encouraged them to draw and tell stories. Although not formally trained as an artist, George Andrews painted throughout his life and received considerable recognition in his later years. As a teenager Benny Andrews attended Burney Street High School only sporadically, when weather conditions excused him from his work picking cotton in the fields. In 1948 he became the first member of his family to graduate from high school.
In 1948Andrews moved to Atlanta and was awarded a 4 H club scholarship to attend one of Georgia s three black colleges He entered Fort Valley State College in Fort Valley Georgia but dropped ...
was born José Toribio Apelo on 7 April 1797 in Santiago, Chile, the illegitimate son of Pascuala Apelo Gormas, the daughter-in-law of the pardo captain Domingo Eustaquio Cruzate (1709–1788). Apelo himself was considered a pardo, a designation commonly applied in eighteenth-century Chile to free men and women of color. At an early age he went to work for the master carpenter Ambrosio Santelices, the most famous sculptor in the Chilean capital at the time, whose shop was located directly across from the current site of the National Library. In this workshop Apelo met and befriended the master’s son, the sculptor Pedro Santelices. At about this time, he also joined the city’s black militia, a group that was charged with the night patrol of the city’s shops and warehouses. On 15 April 1805 Apelo married the master carpenter s daughter María del Carmen the couple would have ...
Kimberly L. Malinowski
skilled daguerrean who practiced photography in Massachusetts and in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. Little is known about his early life, other than that he was from Boston, Massachusetts, and was most likely a freeman. He was a pioneer of the daguerreotype. The daguerreotype process is exceedingly laborious and includes polishing the daguerreotype plate, buffing it, coating it with iodine and bromine, exposing the plate in the camera, positioning both the subject and the camera, and then developing it, exposing it to mercury, removing the coating, gilding the image, and then coloring the image as necessary. This process requires highly skilled artists to get a clean image.
While little is known about Bailey, his importance stems from his role in teaching James Presley Ball the art of daguerreotyping in the 1840s Bailey most likely taught Ball in White Sulphur Springs West Virginia Ball was a renowned abolitionist who published ...
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 ...
Amalia K. Amaki
photographer and businessman, was born in New Orleans, where he remained professionally based throughout his sixty-plus-year career.
The leading African American photographer in New Orleans in the first half of the twentieth century, Bedou saw his reputation grow to national proportions as a result of his images of the life and travel of Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute (later Tuskegee University) President Booker T. Washington from the early 1900s through 1915. He photographed Washington at public-speaking engagements addressing crowds in Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, California, and numerous other locations during his final tour, which ended in 1915. He recorded Washington in transit by coach, train, and automobile in addition to his famous portraits of the education leader posed upon his horse.
As official photographer for the Institute, Bedou covered any number of events for the school. He recorded the 24 October 1905 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
pioneer of abstract painting, was born Edward Clark in the Storyville section of New Orleans, Louisiana. Little is known about his family, but they moved north during the Depression, and he was raised in Chicago.
Following service in the U.S. Air Force, Clark attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago under the G.I. Bill from 1947 to 1951. At the Art Institute, he met abstract painter Joan Mitchell, with whom he developed a lifelong friendship, and the impressionist painter Louis Ritman, who was an encouraging instructor. During this period, Clark's work was traditional and figurative. But Clark's frustration with the Institute's academic restraints, such as the directive to avoid oils during this period, led-him to create an experimental self-portrait that took two years to complete. The classic head-and-shoulders depiction was set against a Renaissance landscape consisting of subtle layers of stippled watercolors.
In 1952 Clark ...
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 ...
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 ...
Joseph D. Ketner
painter, was born in Fayette, New York, the son of John Dean Duncanson, a carpenter and handyman, and Lucy Nickles. Robert's grandfather Charles Duncanson was a former slave from Virginia who was emancipated and around 1790 moved north. Perhaps because he was the illegitimate offspring of his master, Charles had been permitted to learn a skilled trade and later to earn his release from bondage. After the death of Charles, the Duncanson family moved west to the boomtown of Monroe, Michigan, on the tip of Lake Erie. There Robert, along with his four brothers, was raised in the family trades of house painting, decorating, and carpentry, a legacy of his grandfather's bondage. At the age of seventeen, after several years of apprenticeship, Robert entered into the painting trade with a partner, John Gamblin, advertising as “Painters and Glaziers.”
For unknown reasons the painting partnership disbanded after ...
sculptor, was born in Davidson County, Tennessee, the eldest of Orange and Jane Brown Edmondson's five children. His parents were freed slaves working as field laborers. Edmondson worked for a living from an early age: he recounted boyhood memories of laboring in the corn fields of the former Compton plantation. As he got older, urban railways and housing encroached on this rural landscape three miles from Nashville, signaling economic changes and prompting many black families to resettle in the city. Edmondson's family joined this migration in 1890, a year after his father died.
His first Nashville job was for a sewer works. Later he worked for the railroads, until a leg injury in 1907 led Edmondson to take less strenuous janitorial work at the all-white Woman's Hospital. He worked in various jobs there until the hospital ceased operations. It was 1931 and Edmondson was in his mid ...
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 ...
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 ...