"The Harmon Foundation, a philanthropic organization based in New York City and active from 1922 to 1967, included this portrait in its exhibition "Portraits of Outstanding Americans of Negro Origin." To demonstrate its goal of social equality and document noteworthy African Americans' contributions to the country, the foundation had sought portraits from an African American artist, Laura Wheeler Waring, and a Euro-American artist, Betsy Graves Reyneau. The exhibition toured nationwide for ten years.
By 1946, sculptor Richmond Barthé was very well-known in New York City. Reyneau depicted him in his studio with a figure of Jesus Christ titled Come Unto Me. When he completed the work in 1947, Barthé donated it to St. Jude's Church in Montgomery, Alabama." -- National Portrait Gallery
The Smithsonian's Luce Center gives this biography of Barthé:
"Richmond Barthé was not discouraged when the New Orleans Art School barred him from attending because of his race. Instead he enrolled at the Art Institute of Chicago, where his drawing teacher suggested he try modeling in clay. Barthé began sculpting figures that expressed his sitters’ emotions through their gestures and movements. His work won him a number of solo exhibitions and awards, but he moved to Jamaica after the strain of this success grew too great. Barthé worked in all parts of the Caribbean from 1947 until 1969 and designed many of the coins that are still used in Haiti." -- Luce Artist Biography