"A portrait is a picture in which there is just a tiny little something not quite right about the mouth." -- John Singer Sargent

Friday, December 15, 2017

Joe Louis

This 1946 portrait of Joseph Louis Barrow (May 13, 1914 – April 12, 1981) by Betsy Graves Reyneau hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC.
“American boxing great Joe Louis began his pro career in 1934 and quickly eliminated a series of opponents with his devastating knockout punch. Widely expected to take the 1936 heavyweight title, Louis was stunned by his defeat at the hands of German champion Max Schmeling. When he reentered the ring against Schmeling in 1938, far more was at stake than a world heavyweight crown. Schmeling came to the contest as Adolf Hitler's champion of Aryan supremacy, while Louis, the first African American boxer to win the enthusiastic support of black and white Americans alike, was embraced as democracy's standardbearer. Louis struck like lightning when the fight began. Staggering Schmeling with a sequence of tremendous blows, Louis took only 124 seconds to claim one of the sweetest victories in boxing history. As reporter Heywood Broun rightly observed, Louis had ‘exploded the Nordic myth with a boxing glove.’”

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