This is a painting a began about a year ago. I decided to put it away and sort of forgot about it until recently. I remember being unsure about it back then, but there were elements I really liked. I painted this from my imagination. Today, I decided to add some touches to it to bring out the contrast and color. I also used a different medium back then, so I don’t want to do too much to change the effect of the old medium which consisted of a special old masters blend. Wood panels have been one of my favorite surfaces, besides linen, to work on.
I began painting this one a couple of years ago and it was initially commissioned for a public symposium dedicated to African Americans in Classical Literature in Savannah, GA. I was able to acquire this piece again and it will now be shown at The Telfair Museums’ Jepson Center for the Arts in Savannah, GA next months. What makes this piece important is that I was unable to locate a picture in color so I had to recreate this from a black and white photo. From what I know, there are very few paintings of him, if any. He is known to be the First African American Scholar in the Classics going from slavery to becoming president of Wilberforce University, in Ohio. He also wrote a classical Greek textbook for students.
This portrait is inspired by Vermeer’s famous painting “Girl with a Pearl Earing” and the style of Rembrandt. This is actually a portrait of the late actress Esther Rolle, the famous American comedian from the show Good Times. I used her as the model due to her beautiful smile. This painting will be feature at the Ali Cultural Arts Center in Pompano Beach, FL on October 30th until February 22nd, 2020.