Les Amis de Beauford Delaney is partnering with the Wells International Foundation (WIF) to take the Beauford Delaney: Resonance of Form and Vibration of Color exhibition to the U.S.!

We value your support!

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(All or part of your gift through WIF may qualify as a charitable deductible in the U.S.)

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Delia Delaney - Beauford's Beloved Mother

In celebration of Mother's Day 2018, I decided to devote this week's blog post to Beauford's beloved mother, Delia Delaney.

The first three pages of the first chapter in Beauford's biography, Amazing Grace: A Life of Beauford Delaney, are devoted to "Delia Johnson Delaney, a strict, proud woman who upheld what she saw as the Christian virtues."

Image of 1953 portrait of Delia Delaney from
Amazing Grace: A Life of Beauford Delaney

In reading these pages, we learn that Delia was born into slavery in February 1865, that she never learned to read or write, and that she loved singing old songs and telling stories about plantation life and the Civil War days. She instilled in her children the value of education and the evils of racism.

We also learn that she was naturally artistic and that she never revealed her sufferings to the world at large. These are two traits that she passed on to Beauford.

Beauford captured his mother's likeness many times, from a 1922 watercolor that he created under Lloyd Branson's tutelage in Knoxville, to later portraits done from memory after Delia's passing in 1958.

I have posted images of two of these portraits on this blog several times over the years:

Portrait of Delia Delaney
(1964) Oil on canvas
Knoxville Museum of Art
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

Portrait of Delia Delaney
(1933) Pastel on paper
Knoxville Museum of Art
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

Another portrait of Delia is part of the private collection of painter Danny Simmons:

Portrait of the Artist’s Mother
(1930) Pencil, ink and watercolor on paper
© Estate of Beauford Delaney,
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

In Amazing Grace, biographer David Leeming describes Delia as being "the dominant force for stability" in Beauford's life. When she died, he wrote to his friend Larry Wallrich that he hoped to "gather [himself] together" and "use some of the heritage of endurance left me by her."

Happy Mother's Day from Les Amis de Beauford Delaney!

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