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Saturday, December 20, 2014

A Christmas Self-portrait

Beauford painted the self-portrait below in December 1972.

Self-portrait
(1972) Gouache on paper
Collection of David A. Leeming
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

Though he had promised his family in Knoxville, TN that he would come home for the holidays that year, he stopped communicating with them and went to James Baldwin's home at Saint-Paul de Vence instead. His mental state was somewhat precarious at the time, and as biographer David A. Leeming states in Amazing Grace: A Life of Beauford Delaney, this can be seen in Beauford's countenance in the painting. His neighborhood in Paris was undergoing massive urban renewal and he was having an increasingly difficult time coping with the change and the knowledge that he would soon need to move.

Yet his visit to Saint-Paul soothed him, and he wrote to his family to tell them he was well. When he returned to Paris, he began to prepare for a solo exposition to be held in March 1973 at the Darthea Speyer Gallery.


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