Gloria Wade-Gayles, "No Crystal Stair, Visions of Race and Sex,"
in Black Women's Fiction ( New York: Pilgrim Press, 1984), p. 6.
Quoted in Beverly Guy-Sheftall and
Patricia Bell-Scott, "The
Creative Spirit", Sage: A Scholarly Journal on Black Women, vol. 4, no. 1 ( Spring 1987): 2.
Steven Loring Jones well-documented and informative article, "A Keen Sense of the Artistic African American Material Culture in
19th Century Philadelphia", The International Review of African American Art, vol. 12, no. 12 ( Summer 1995), pp. 9-10. Jones indicates that
there were sixteen schoolteachers in the 1856 statistics in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The scrapbooks, located in the Moorland Spingarn
Research Center at Howard University and The Library Company of
Philadelphia, yielded the sketches and poems noted. Douglass's colleague, Ada H. Hinton (active 1840s-1900+) also contributed work to
these albums. She too combined literary and artistic skill in the albums
of young women students. Two works, Untitled Floral Bud, 1840?,
watercolor, and Untitled Floral Piece, 1840?, oil and ink, are illustrated.
To my knowledge, the illustrations of Douglass and Hinton are published here for the first time.
Robert Douglass, Jr. ( 1809-1887) was a painter, printmaker, and
photographer. He studied with the leading portrait painter of the day, Thomas Sully of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. He spent
eighteen months in Haiti, 1837-39, and by 1840, he was in London studying at the National Gallery. When he returned to Philadelphia in
early 1841, he scheduled illustrated slide lectures on his travels in Haiti. William Penn Douglass (n.d.) began his career as a sign painter. He was
also chairman of the Colored Young Men of Philadelphia.
Quoted in Sterling Stuckey, Slave Culture ( New York: Oxford University Press, 1987), p. 268.
Jones, "A Keen Sense of the Artistic", p. 10.
Elaine Hedges, "The Nineteenth Century Diarist and Her Quilts", Feminist Studies, vol. 8 ( Summer 1982): 295-97, cited in Crystal A. Britton
"Conditions for Black Women Artists: An Overview," in Vivian
Schuyler Key, One of Many Voices 1926-1980, exh. cat. ( Brooklyn,
NY. The Society for the Preservation of Weeksville and BedfordStuyvesant History, 1990), p. 12.
Crystal Britton, "Conditions for Black Women Artists", p. 12.
Gladys-Marie Fry, "Harriet Powers: Portrait of a Black Quilter", in Sage: A Scholarly Journal on Black Women, vol. 4, no. 1 ( Spring 1987): 11.
18 Ibid., p. 12
. According to Fry, Jennie Smith offered to buy the quilt
at the 1886 fair, but Powersrefused to sell it for any price. Around 1890, experiencing difficult financial pressures, Powers sent word to Smith that the quilt was now for sale. Smith was herself unable to purchase it in 1890, but in 1891 she reopened negotiations. Her own
words are very interesting and shed light on Powers's attachment to
this quilt: "Last year I sent her word that I would buy it if she still
wanted to dispose of it. She arrived one afternoon in front of my door
in an ox-cart with the precious burden in her lap encased in a clean
flour sack, which was still enveloped in a crocus sack. She offered it for
ten dollars, but I told her I only had five to give. After going out consulting with her husband she returned and said, 'Owin' to de hardness
of de times, my old man lows I'd better teck hit.' Not being a new
woman she obeyed.
After giving me a full description of each scene with great earnestness, she departed but has been back several times to visit the darting
offspring of her brain. She was only in a measure consoled for its loss
when I promised to save her all my scraps. That black women were
expected to defer to their husbands rings loudly in Smith's observation
that Powers"Not being a new woman obeyed." Furthermore, her
returns to see the quilt indicate that this product was viewed as more
than a utilitarian object in the household.
Milton W. Brown et al., American Art ( New York: Harry N.
Abrams, 1979), p. 278.
Britton, "Conditions for Black Women Artists", p. 12.
Oberlin College had promoted coeducation since its founding in 1832 and began admitting African Americans in 1835.
Lynda Roscoe Hartigan, Sharing Traditions: Five Black Artists
in Nineteenth Century America, exh. cat. ( Washington, DC: National
Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, 1985), p. 87.
Charlotte Streiffer Rubinstein, American Women Sculptors ( Boston: G.K. Hall, 1990), p. 52, and Arna Alexander Bontemps and
, "African American Women Artists: An Historical Perspective," Sage: A Scholarly Journal on Black Women, vol. 4, no. 1
( Spring 1987): 17.
Theodore J. Stebbins, The Boston Tradition: American Paintings from
the Museum of Fine Arts, exh. cat. ( Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 1980),
Rubinstein, American Women Sculptors, p. 52.
Juanita Marie Holland, "Reaching Through the Veil: African
American Artist Edward Mitchell Bannister," in Edward Mitchell Bannister 1828-1901, exh. cat. ( New York: Kenkeleba House, 1992), p. 22.
Rubinstein, American Women Sculptors, pp. 45, 52.
Hartigan, Sharing Traditions, p. 89.
Rubinstein, American Women Sculptors, p. 25.
Henry James, William Wetmore Story and His Friends ( Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1903; reprint, New York: Grove Press, 1957), p. 57.
Hartigan, Sharing Traditions, p. 93.
Kirsten P. Buick, "The Ideal Works of Edmonia Lewis: Invoking
and Inverting Autobiography", American Art, vol. 9, no. 2 ( Summer 1995): 6-7, 9.
This work is in the National Museum of American Art, Washington, D.C.
Rubinstein, American Women Sculptors, p. 54; Hartigan, Sharing
Traditions, p. 94.
Long considered lost, the life-size, two-ton statue was identified in
a Chicago suburb in 1988. The asp in Cleopatra's hand has been broken
off. It is currently in the National Museum of American Art, Washington, D.C. See Romare Bearden and
Harry Henderson, A History of African American Artists from 1792 to the Present