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Baptiste Bonnefoy

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 ...

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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

Todd Palmer

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 ...

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

Aimee Lee Cheek and William Cheek

political leader and intellectual, was born free in Louisa County, Virginia, the son of Ralph Quarles, a wealthy white slaveholding planter, and Lucy Jane Langston, a part-Native American, part-black slave emancipated by Quarles in 1806. After the deaths of both of their parents in 1834, Langston and his two brothers, well provided for by Quarles's will but unprotected by Virginia law, moved to Ohio. There Langston lived on a farm near Chillicothe with a cultured white southern family who had been friends of his father and who treated him as a son. He was in effect orphaned again in 1839 when a court hearing concluding that his guardian s impending move to slave state Missouri would imperil the boy s freedom and inheritance forced him to leave the family Subsequently he boarded in four different homes white and black in Chillicothe and Cincinnati worked ...

Article

Lisa E. Rivo

sculptor, was born to an African American father and a mother of African American and Mississauga descent, whose names are not known. The Mississauga, a Chippewa (Ojibway in Canada) band, lived in southern Ontario. Information about Lewis's early life remains inconsistent and unverified. She was probably born in 1844 or 1845, most likely near Albany, New York. Orphaned by age nine, Lewis and her older brother, Samuel were taken in by their maternal aunts Mississaugas living near Niagara Falls Lewis joined the tribe in hunting and fishing along Lake Ontario and the Niagara River and in making and selling moccasins baskets and other souvenirs Although she later gave her Mississauga name as Wildfire Lewis s translation from the Chippewa may have been intended to authenticate her Indian background and appeal to whites She remained with the Mississauga until age twelve when Samuel using earnings amassed during the ...

Article

Antônio Francisco Lisboa, better known by his nickname “Aleijadinho” (the Little Cripple), was born in Villa Rica do Ouro Preto, Minas Gerais, Brazil, where he later distinguished himself as an artist during the baroque and rococo artistic periods. The Minas Gerais variant of the baroque and rococo styles is distinct; unlike the coastal states of Rio de Janeiro and Bahia, whose frequent contact with Portugal kept the art and architecture of those provinces in tune with European artistic developments, Minas Gerias's location in the interior largely insulated it from European influences. Minas Gerais was also a more recently settled province, and it had few convents or monasteries of the regular orders, which would have otherwise encouraged the duplication of European architectural designs.

During the colonial era in Latin America the church was the center of social life and the principal patron of the arts Virtually all of Aleijadinho ...

Article

Matthew Francis Rarey

was born into slavery in Santos in the captaincy of São Paulo, in colonial Brazil. During the second half of the eighteenth century, Thebas would gain fame in the city of São Paulo for his innovative stonework and elegant solutions to complex structural problems. The name Thebas (“Thebes”), first recorded on Oliveira’s signature in 1791, is of disputed origin. The historian Nuto Sant’Anna speculates that the name refers to Thebas’s skill and inventiveness, a comparison to Oedipus, king of Thebes, mythological solver of the riddle of the Sphinx.

Thebas was born a slave of the master Portuguese stonemason Bento de Oliveira Lima (fl. eighteenth century), who likely introduced Thebas to stoneworking. Sometime before 1750, Lima, along with his family and slaves, relocated to the city of São Paulo in pursuit of further work opportunities. Soon thereafter, Thebas was receiving commissions on his own: in 1755 he had ...

Article

Baptiste Bonnefoy

was born in Santiago, Chile, sometime during the 1760s. The illegitimate son of María Frayla, a parda, and Luis Santelices, a locally born descendant of Spaniards, Ambrosio, too, was known as a pardo, a designation commonly applied in eighteenth-century Chile to free men and women of color. Through the good offices of an uncle, he was trained to be a carpenter in the workshop of the Bavarian Jesuits at their hacienda at Calera de Tango, where he became acquainted with the sculptor Fermín Morales (1764–1810). On 10 January 1780 Santelices married the parda Catalina Meneses (whose surname was also sometimes shown as Moreno). The couple had two children: Pedro Santelices, born in 1782, and María del Carmen, born in 1785 Santelices s wife contributed to the marriage a dowry of 500 pesos as well as a house located just across the street from the ...

Article

Baptiste Bonnefoy

was born Pedro José Domingo de los Dolores Santelices Meneses in Santiago in 1782 to Ambrosio Santelices, at the time the principal sculptor of Santiago, and Catalina Meneses (also known as Catalina Moreno). He was described on his baptismal certificate as a quinterón, a designation sometimes applied in eighteenth-century Chile to light-skinned free men and women of mixed African-European descent. From a young age, Pedro Santelices worked in his father’s carpentry workshop, located just across the street from the actual site of Chile’s National Library. There, he met and befriended fellow woodworker José Tomás Apelo, who later married Santelices’s sister, María del Carmen. He also formed part of the urban militia of pardos (a colonial term used to designate individuals of African ancestry), the group charged with patrolling the city streets at night. On 24 May 1809 Santelices married the parda Isidora Ureta Zapata they would have a ...

Article

Mónica Domínguez Torres

best known as Mestre Valentim, the most famous sculptor, architect, and city planner of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in the last half-century of Portuguese colonial rule. Valentim was the son of an unnamed Afro-Brazilian slave woman and a Portuguese nobleman engaged in the Brazilian mining business. (Some authors have identified his father as Francisco Ferreira da Silva, a diamond contractor active in Minas Gerais around 1748.) From interviews conducted with the artist’s former pupils, Valentim’s first biographer, Manuel de Araújo Porto-alegre, records that Valentim was taken as a child to Portugal, but that he had to return to Brazil upon his father’s death. Scholars have traditionally inferred that he apprenticed as a sculptor in Portugal, although no documents about this sojourn or overseas training have survived. Historical records do show, though, that around 1770 he had established a workshop in downtown Rio de Janeiro perhaps intending to capitalize ...