Wednesday, March 6, 2013

African American Nannies - The Southern tradition...

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Lee Greene Richards (1878–1950) Nanny Holding a Baby 1911

While browsing the blog American Gallery over the weekend, I was stopped short by the painting above.  I would have expected the painting to be done by a Southern artist here in the United States, but it was done by a Utah Mormon.  Lee Greene Richards was born in Salt Lake City, Utah in 1878. He was a successful professional artist known for his portraits of prominent citizens, landscapes, and Depression-era murals at the State Capitol. His murals are also on the ceilings of several temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Lee Greene Richards (American artist, 1878–1950) Nanny with Child in a Garden 1912

A mission for the L.D.S. church took 18-year-old Richards to England in 1895, where he was able to visit the British museums and see original paintings by the old masters as well as to sketch and paint the lush English countryside.  Richards studied for three years (1901–4) in France, first at the Académie Julian and then, after passing the rigorous entrance exam, at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. He exhibited internationally before returning to settle in Utah for the remainder of his career.

These paintings reminded me of the 19th & 20th century photos of the African American women who cared for the children of the privileged in the 16th-20th century American South.  Kathryn Stockett’s novel The Help carries the story into the middle of the 20th century.

Photo from the Maryland Historical Society






Photo from the Maryland Historical Society












Photo from the Maryland Historical Society













Photo from the Maryland Historical Society





















Ada Peters Brown, aged 7 months - less 3 days  W.T. B. Photographer Philadelphia Wenderoth, Taylor  Brown 1860 and 1870. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.

Published as "Nursemaid with her charge" in When they were young : a photographic retrospective of childhood from the Library of Congress 2002-03  African American woman holding a white child, circa 1855. 



Daguerreotype











Mary Allen Watson, 15, June, 1866 Disbrow & Few, Photographers, Albion, N. Y. 1866 Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.

Two children with an African American woman. circa 1861-1870. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.





 Young African American woman holding a baby. Photographer Carvalho, 4 East 14th St, New York City. 1870-80. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C

African American woman holding stocking; looking at book with white girl. Circa 1897  Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.

 Elizabeth F Saenger  (American artist, 1899-1945) Black Mammy with White Child



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