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Portrait of James Baldwin
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Portrait of James Baldwin

Beauford Delaney, American (active Paris), 1901 - 1979

Made in United States, North and Central America


Oil on canvas

22 × 18 inches (55.9 × 45.7 cm)

© Estate of Beauford Delaney by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire, Court Appointed Administrator; Courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York, NY

Curatorial Department:
American Art

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
125th Anniversary Acquisition. Purchased with funds contributed by The Daniel W. Dietrich Foundation in memory of Joseph C. Bailey and with a grant from The Judith Rothschild Foundation, 1998

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This iconic painting is a very early depiction of the famous writer and civil rights activist James Baldwin, who was twenty-one when Delaney created this portrait. Closely cropped and vibrantly painted, it jumps out from the canvas, presenting an up-close encounter with the sitter. As in Delaney's self-portraits, he painted one eye slightly different from the other, a pictorial device also found in Pablo Picasso's paintings. Of the many portraits Delaney made of Baldwin, this one is among his most direct and expressive.