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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Beauford at the Smithsonian Institution - Part 2

Last week's posting presented works by Beauford and papers relevant to Beauford at the Smithsonian Institution's Museum of American Art and Archives of American Art, respectively. This week, we'll look at the holdings of the National Portrait Gallery.

I've written several times about Beauford's portrait of James Baldwin that is held by the National Portrait Gallery. The Gallery owns two additional portraits by Beauford - one of Ethel Waters and one of poet May Swenson.

The Waters portrait is a pastel on paper, dated 1940. Acquired in February 2011, it is listed as a "prominent work" in a fact sheet published by the Smithsonian in September 2011. There is no image of the portrait displayed on the Gallery's Web site; however, the grayscale image below can be found in Amazing Grace: A Life of Beauford Delaney, David A. Leeming's biography of Beauford.

Ethel Waters
(1940) Pastel on Paper

Leeming indicates that Beauford began creating a series of charcoal and pastel drawings of "jazz musicians and other important figures" in the late 1930s at the urging of W. C. Handy. Waters, Duke Ellington, and Louis Armstrong were among them.

There is an image of the May Swenson portrait online at the Catalog of American Portraits Web site:

May Swenson
(1960) Pastel and chalk on paper

Swenson and Beauford met at the Yaddo Art Colony in Saratoga Springs in 1950. Swenson and her daughter visited Beauford in Paris in 1954.

The National Portrait Gallery also owns one of Georgia O'Keeffe's masterful pastel portraits of Beauford, which I wrote about in the August 2010 issue of this blog.

Beauford Delaney
Georgia O'Keeffe
(1943) Pastel on paper

Click here to listen to the audio recording that the National Portrait Gallery has posted about the portrait.

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