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SAMELLA LEWIS (1924 - ) Washerwoman.
Gouache on cream wove paper, circa 1949. 279x229 mm; 11x9 inches. Signed in pencil, lower left.
Provenance: the estate of Dr. Maya Angelou.
Painted during her graduate study at Ohio State University, this work is representative of Dr. Samella Lewis' interest in color and portraiture. In 1949, Dr. Lewis lived with relatives in the Bayou Teche region of Louisana painting portraits of them and workers from the sugarcane fields. In 1951 Dr. Lewis became the first African-American woman to receive doctoral degrees in both fine art and art history. Dr. Lewis taught at a number of institutions, most notably at Scripps College from 1969-1984. She is the author of the first and one of the most widely used textbooks on African-American art history, African-American Art and Artists, and significant monographs on artists Elizabeth Catlett and Richmond Barthé. In addition, Dr. Lewis has curated a number of exhibitions including Contemporary African-American Artists: 1980-1994 at The National Arts Club, which featured works on loan from the collection of Dr. Angelou. In 2007, Scripps College instituted the Samella Lewis Collection of Contemporary Art in honor of Dr. Lewis. Lewis pp. 16-20.