The Souls of Black Art - the Spirit Creative

An Overview of the History of African American Art
and Black Artists - Series 1, Part 2.

Written by Kamau Austin and Edited by Carol Austin

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Testimony: Vernacular Art of the
African American South
The Ronald and June Shelp Collection

by Editors:
Kinshasha Conwill, Arthur C. Danto,
Grey Gundaker, Edmund Barry Gaither,
Judith M. McWillie


















Souls Grown Deep: African American
Vernacular of the South - -
The Tree Gave the Dove a Leaf

by Editors: Paul Arnett and
William Arnett and the
Schomburg Center for Research in
Black Culture Click to


The History of Black art and African American Art Part 2, Julien Hudson continued

own likeness survives. He painted the earliest known self-portrait by a black artist. Like Johnson there are sketchy details about his life. What is known is that he opened an art studio in New Orleans in 1831. Hudson studied in Paris. Hudson, a fair complexioned black living in tolerate New Orleans, also painted the battle of New Orleans in 1815. This Painting focuses on the commander of a corps of free Black militiamen that fought on the American side.

Black Art and African American Art in the Northern States in the 1800s.

Changing our focus to Northern Blacks, a Philadelphia located black artist Robert Douglass, a freeman used his art for social purposes - the abolitionist movement. Douglass produced portraits of leading figures of the movement.

"Black Artist does
Portrait of Abraham Lincoln"

Douglass' life was challenged by racism in America and therefore he spent most of his life abroad, until he died in 1887 at 87 years of age. Douglass' cousin David Bustill Bowser, was also an African American artist, who made a living doing other things, but later became an noteworthy artist. He later did two paintings of Abraham Lincoln, one of which Lincoln actually sat for.

"Patrick Reason using Black Art and
African American Art to end Slavery"

Another early African American artist was Patrick Reason. Born in 1817, Patrick Reason's trades were engraving and lithography. Reason attended New York City's African Free School. Through abolitionist connections, he was apprenticed to a white engraver. He first achieved recognition, at the age 13 by designing the frontispiece of a history of the African Free School. His connection with the antislavery movement became stronger once he went into engraving and also began making portraits of leading abolitionists.

Reason gained renown by engraving a copy of the emblem of the British antislavery movement, which as a symbol, was widely used in the U. S. at the time. Next we will look at the contribution of artist Jules Lions.

"Jules Lions, Black Entrepreneur and African American Artist takes Black Art and
African American Art in New Directions"

After a Frenchman, named Louis J. M. Daquerre, invented a practical photographic technique called daguerreotypes in 1839, soon the images became very popular in the United States. Shortly thereafter, a black Artist Jules Lion, became a pioneer of this new art medium. Little is known of his early life except that he was born in 1810 in France. At 21 he was the youngest artist to be exhibited in the annual show in Paris called the Salon des Artistes Francais. In 1836, he emigrated to New Orleans, and thereafter opened an art studio. In New Orleans he painted portraits for City Leaders and also produced lithographs of its architecture.

Lions, had a knack for new opportunities. Therefore, within a year after the daguerreotype had been perfected, the young artist was praised for producing "the first specimens of drawings by the daguerreotype we have seen." Later in the same quote in the New Orleans Bee of that period, the paper stated "Nothing can be more truly beautiful" speaking of his work. Lion's later had financial problems in 1844 and 1845 and therefore, had to sell his possessions. Today only a few of his lithographs and a single portrait exists.

"The First African Artist to Gain
National and International Acclaim"

It was during this time a budding artistic genius became the first black artist to gain national and International acclaim.

Robert Scott Duncanson, painted ...

to read part 3 on the history of African American art and Black Art click here




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