anonymous asked:

i've been desperately trying to find famous paintings of black women and nothing showed up... is there a chance you know any painters who could have those? i need it for my art research but if i don't find any i'm afraid i'll have to give this idea up eh

Sorry for the delay! Hopefully it’s still useful

 Portrait of an African Slave Woman, Annibale Carracci, 1580s
- this one is really famous and well known. There is quite a bit of research out there, particularly related to how the woman dresses.

Portrait of a Young Woman,  Jean-Étienne Liotard, 1790s

Portrait of a Woman in a Blue Turban, Eugène Delacroix, 1827

Portrait d'une négresse, Marie-Guilhelmine Benoist, 1800

-These are some of the most famous ones. The ones that are most often written about. 

William Matthew Prior was an early American folk artist who painted women and children, a few of his sitters were mixed raced/of african descent. 

Winold Reiss was an illustrator during the Harlem Renaissance. Though he doesn’t follow that movement exactly, his works are more realistic and journalistic. 

Felix Vallotton painted a few portraits of black women. 

South African artist, Irma Stern painted women from all over, as South Africa saw many immigrants. 

There is also: Lois Mailou Jones,  Dame Laura Knight

Prudence Heward a Canadian artist, who is not very well known also painted many portraits of black women and children. 

More contemporary you have: Tim Okamura, Sara Golish, Njideka Akunyili, Kara Walker, Titus Kaphar, Kehinde Wiley, Jenny Scobel, Lionel Smit

These are just the most well known- there are a lot more out there. It does take some digging though. 


Jaavon and the Unknown Gentleman, 2011. Titus Kaphar.
Gentleman with Negro Attendant, 1785-88. Ralph Earl

Jaavon and the Unknown Gentleman was commissioned by the New Britain Museum of American Art as a contemporary commentary on the Colonial-era work Gentleman with Negro Attendant, by Ralph Earl. The resulting painting is the first in a new series that focuses on identity. Kaphar explains:

“Much of black history recorded in Western art is summarized visually by three roles: enslaved, in servitude, or impoverished. But beyond this limited social order lies a people of dignity and strength, whose survival is nothing less than miraculous. Within the context of 19th century paintings, most black characters play, at best, secondary roles int he composition. The implication of hierarchy through compositional positioning (that is, figures in the composition) is a fundamental theme explored in this piece. 

In many paintings from this period the prototypical image of a black person was as a slave or servant, just outside of illuminated areas of importance. The characters in the shadows were there to add balance to the overall composition and emphasize, or accentuate, the statue of the "important” character being painted. 

In the original painting Gentleman with Negro the black child is stripped of all identity. He has no name, grotesquely articulated features, and is bereft of human dignity. In Jaavon and the Unknown Gentleman, the black figure is replaced with a living and particular child – my young neighbor.“