Chrysler Museum Acquires Noted James Baldwin Portrait

2015.28 Delaney_Portrait of James Baldwin

The Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, Virginia has acquired a significant portrait of the writer James Baldwin (1924–1987) by Beauford Delaney (1901–1979), an artist associated with the Harlem Renaissance.

The institution’s announcement follows two recent curatorial appointments: that of chief curator Lloyd DeWitt and curator of exhibitions Seth Feman. The 1965 portrait was acquired directly from the artist’s estate, and it has been widely exhibited, including in Delaney’s first retrospective at the Studio Museum in Harlem in 1978.

It is the museum’s “first purchase of work by a deceased African American artist,” according to a release, which also noted Delaney’s ancestral ties to Norfolk — the artist’s mother was born into slavery in Virginia in 1865. The acquisition was described as “part of a continued effort to exhibit more art reflective of the sizable African American population in Hampton Roads,” the museum’s greater metropolitan region.

Mostafa Heddaya (@mheddaya)

(Photo: Beauford Delaney, “Portrait of James Baldwin,” 1965, courtesy the Chrysler Museum of Art.)