Oil on cotton canvas, 1968. 610x502 mm; 24x19 3/4 inches. Signed and dated in oil, lower left.
Provenance: acquired directly from the artist; James and Gloria Jones, Paris; estate of Gloria Jones, New York; private New York collection. American writer James Jones and his wife Gloria were close friends, collectors and supporters of Delaney's while he lived in Paris.
Exhibited: the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, with the label on the frame back.
In this striking canvas, Beauford Delaney combines a representation of an African fertility figure within a saturated yellow color field painting. Delaney had an interest in African sculpture going back to his reading of Alain Locke's New Negro, and visiting artist Cloyd Boykin's Primitive African Arts Center in the 1930s. Having seen the influence of African art on Picasso and other modernist painters in both New York and Paris, Delaney often incorporated African motifs and figures, including Earth Mother, 1950 and Mokonde Figure, 1952. This oil is from the same year as his Portrait of Ella Fitzgerald in the Walter O. Evans Collection of African-American Art, the last fully productive year of his Parisian period. In both paintings, the figure is subsumed within the dominant yellow swirls of color. Three years later, Delaney even portrayed himself as an African figure in his Self-Portrait, 1971. Leeming p. 41 and 102; Powell p. 58.