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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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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 ...

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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

Renée R. Hanson

sculptor, illustrator, ceramicist, and entrepreneur, was born in Lexington, Kentucky, the first of three children born to the Reverend Hathaway and Mrs. Hathaway. Hathaway's mother died when he was only two years old, and his father and grandmother raised him and his two sisters, Fannie and Eva.

A trip with his father to a local museum inspired Hathaway to become an artist. Walking through the museum's galleries, which were filled with busts of famous white American heroes, Isaac noticed the absence of-many African Americans, such as Frederick Douglass. He asked his father why they were absent, and the elder Hathaway simply stated that there were no trained African American sculptors to sculpt prominent African American people. The young Hathaway determined to change this by becoming a trained artist.

Hathaway began his career as an artist at Chandler College in Lexington and continued it ...

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Gregory Eiselein

In his third-person autobiography, From the Virginia Plantation to the National Capitol (1894), John Mercer Langston recounts his career as one of the most influential African American leaders of the nineteenth century. Born in Virginia and educated at Oberlin, Langston became in 1854 the first African American admitted to the Ohio bar and in 1855 the first elected to public office in the United States (town clerk of Brownhelm, Ohio). Throughout the 1850s he worked within antislavery and civil rights movements, advocating a nationalist, pro-emigration position before becoming a Republican party activist. Heading recruitment of African American soldiers in the West during the Civil War, he rose to national prominence after the war as the president of the National Equal Rights League (a forerunner of the NAACP), an educational inspector for the Freedmen's Bureau, and a Republican party organizer. In 1868 he accepted a professorship at Howard ...

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Aimee Lee Cheek and William Cheek

John Mercer Langston 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, however, when a court hearing, concluding that his guardian's impending move to Missouri (a slave state) 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 ...

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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 ...

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Thomas Adams Upchurch

Born in Virginia to a wealthy white planter and a slave mother, John Mercer Langston was one of the most influential African Americans of the nineteenth century. Widely regarded by contemporaries and historians alike as second in importance only to Frederick Douglass, Langston actually superseded the venerable Douglass in certain ways. Although Douglass enjoyed more widespread renown, Langston held more government positions and had a more varied career. The two men first met in 1848 and maintained a friendship for many years thereafter. They disagreed on some important racial issues, however, which sometimes led to hard feelings and, near the end of their lives, an intense rivalry that most observers would say made them bitter enemies.

Langston was about ten years younger than Douglass and while they were both mulattoes born to slave mothers their upbringings could hardly have been more different Whereas Douglass endured the most abhorrent circumstances ...

Article

American sculptor. Born to an African American father and a Native American mother, she was the first black American sculptor to achieve national prominence. During her early childhood she travelled with her family in the Chippewa tribe, by whom she was known as Wildfire. At 12 she attended school at Albany, NY (1857–9), then a liberal arts course at Oberlin College, OH (1860–63). Lewis then went to Boston (1863) to study with Edward Brackett (1818–1908) and Anne Whitney. Her medallion of the abolitionist John Browne and a bust of the Civil War hero Col. Robert Shaw were exhibited at the Soldiers’ Relief Fair (1864), Boston; the latter sold over 100 plaster copies, enabling Lewis to travel to Rome (1865). There she was introduced to the White Marmorean Flock, a group of women sculptors, including Harriet Hosmer and ...

Article

Edmonia Lewis often drew upon her dual ancestry for inspiration. Her best-known work, Forever Free (1867, Howard University Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.), was inspired by the Emancipation Proclamation and the Thirteenth Amendment, the document issued by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 calling for the freeing of slaves in the United States. Created in marble, Forever Free depicts a man and a woman who have learned of their freedom. In an expression of gratitude, the woman kneels with her hands clasped; the man rests his foot on the ball that held them in bondage, raising his arm to display the broken shackle and chain on his wrist.

Little is known about Lewis's early life. Sources give differing birth dates (1843, 1844, and 1845 and birthplaces Ohio New York and New Jersey Her father was an African American and her mother was a member ...

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 ...

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Lynda Roscoe Hartigan

Edmonia Lewis was the first major sculptress of African American and Native American heritage. Her early biographical circumstances are sketchily known at best. Although Lewis claimed 1854 as her birth date, it is more likely that she was born in 1843 or 1845. Various sources, including the artist herself, claimed Greenhigh, Ohio, and Greenbush, New York, as well as the vicinity of Albany, New York, as her birthplace, but none can be verified.

Lewis s father employed as a gentleman s servant was African American her mother was a Chippewa Indian who may have been born near Albany It was she who presumably named her daughter Wildfire Lewis appears to have spent little if any time with her father and instead lived with her mother s tribe Orphaned before she was five Lewis remained with the Chippewa until she was about twelve years old As Wildfire she learned to ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...