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 ...
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 In historical documents, Campeche, a mulatto, was referred to as a pardo, a designation based on skin color and birth used in the Spanish casta system José s paternal ancestors black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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
Juanita Patience Moss
abolitionist, Union soldier, barber, politician, and journalist, was born to free parents near Alexandria, Virginia. His mother was Patsy Johnson, but his father's name is unknown. At twelve, Johnson left Virginia and ventured to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to learn the apothecary business, but instead he decided to be a hairdresser. He moved to Albany, New York, in 1851 and became interested in the abolitionist movement. After returning to Philadelphia in 1855 he joined the Banneker Literary Society to write and speak against slavery. Later, in 1859, he was caught helping fugitive slaves escape via the Underground Railroad, and he was forced to flee the city to avoid imprisonment.
Johnson was a Freesoiler in his younger days, having trained with the old antislavery party that included such notables as Frederick Douglass, Bishop Logan, and Octavius Catto For many years a staunch Republican ...
David C. Driskell
Born probably in the latter part of the eighteenth century, Johnston lived as a slave in the vicinity of Baltimore, Maryland, until the 1830s. He had three masters, all of Baltimore. The first, General Samuel Smith, was a hero of the American Revolution (1775–1783). Smith served in U.S. president Thomas Jefferson's cabinet as secretary of the navy and later as United States senator from Maryland. The second, General John Stricker, was a hero of the War of 1812. The third, Colonel John Moale, was one of the leading military figures in the regiment that defended Baltimore against the British during the American Revolution. Moale later became a wealthy landlord, judge, and prosperous merchant. One of the three owners encouraged young Johnston to master “doing likenesses,” or portrait painting. Johnston painted a portrait of Colonel Moale's wife, Ellin Moale sitting in the company ...
artist, was born in France, but the exact place of his birth is unknown. Nothing is known about his parents or his youth, but it seems likely that he received a traditional artistic education in Europe. Lion's lithographs were exhibited at the prestigious Paris Salons of 1831 (four prints, including L'affût aux canards [Duck Blind], which won honorable mention), 1834 (four works, including a scene based on Victor Hugo'sNôtre Dame de Paris), and 1836 (lithographs after Van Dyck, Jacquand, Waltier, Boulanger, and others). In the mid-1830s Lion immigrated to New Orleans, where the 1837 city directory listed him as a freeman of color and as a painter and lithographer; he worked in a lithography shop opened by the newspaper L'Abeille (The Bee Light skinned Lion often passed for white and appeared in other records as such His studio was located at ...
Mónica Domínguez Torres
who worked in the captaincy of São Paulo, Brazil, in the late colonial period, was born on 25 March 1764 in Santos, São Paulo. Jesuíno Francisco de Paula Gusmão was the illegitimate son of a poor mulatta named Domingas Inácia de Gusmão. Domingas Inácia was a grand niece of Bartolomeu Lourenço de Gusmão (1685–1724), a Brazilian Jesuit priest popularly known as “Padre Voador” (The Flying Priest) because of his scientific work on airship design. Most likely Jesuíno received some religious, musical, and artistic training under the care of the Carmelite friars of his hometown before he moved to the town of Itu in 1781. There he worked as an assistant to the painter José Patrício da Silva Manso (c. 1753–1801), also a mulatto, during the construction of the Igreja Matriz da Nossa Senhora de Candelária (Mother Church of Our Lady of Candlemas).
In 1784 Jesuíno ...
Despite Scipio Moorhead's position as a slave in the home of John Moorhead, a Presbyterian minister in Boston, he managed to develop his artistic talent. Sarah Moorhead, a painter who was the wife of the minister, probably provided some instruction.
The painting of African-American poet Phillis Wheatley that inspired the engraved frontispiece of her book of poetry is attributed to Moorhead. The volume, Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral, was published in London in 1773 and created public debate concerning the intellectual abilities of those of African descent.
Unfortunately no signed works by Moorhead are known to exist. It is believed that it is Moorhead whom Wheatley immortalized with her 1773 poem, To S. M., A Young African Painter, on Seeing His Work. The poem is thought to be inspired by Scipio Moorhead and describes two paintings presumably by Moorhead, Aurora and Damon and Pythia ...