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

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Marian Anderson

This portrait of Marian Anderson by Beauford Delaney is on display at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC.
“The painter Beauford Delaney, who was active during the Harlem Renaissance and later worked in Paris, met Marian Anderson on February 1, 1951, after one of her recording sessions. Although their encounter was brief, about two weeks later, Delaney wrote to Anderson to express his admiration. He also asked her to sit for him for ‘some drawings in the hope of getting notes on color’ so that he could ‘work on a great composition of some sort.’ Whether she, in fact, sat for him remains unclear, but Anderson marked the letter ‘important / keep.’

Delaney's interest in Anderson was long-lasting, and he shared his excitement with his friend, the writer James Baldwin, whom he took to Carnegie Hall for one of her recitals. Her ‘smoky yellow’ gown, in particular, caught his eye. In Delaney's work, yellow was akin to what he termed his ‘sacred light.’ It is believed that the artist made this painting from memory after he saw Anderson perform in Paris.”  -- NPG

 Beauford Delaney. 1965

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