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Visual Arts

What African-American artists in colonial America left a historical record?

The only African-American artist in colonial America to have left a historical record was Scipio Moorhead. Moorhead’s artistic endeavors appear to have been aided by two prominent women who lived in Boston, where he was a slave: the wife of his clergyman master, the Reverend John Moorhead, who was a patron of arts; and poet Phillis Wheatley, who was herself a slave. Moorhead’s style is in keeping with the period—classical allegorical, resembling the works of George Romney and Joshua Reynolds, British masters of the era. Although no major work is known to have survived, the small extant portrait of Phillis Wheatley is believed to be Moorhead’s work.


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