Oil on cotton canvas, circa 1958. 813x902 mm; 32x35 1/2 inches. Signed in oil, lower left.
Provenance: the artist, Washington, DC; private collection.
Richard Dempsey was born in Ogden, Utah, on September 14, 1909. His youth was spent in Oakland, CA, where he attended Sacramento Junior College (1929-31) as an art major. He then studied at The California School of Arts and Crafts (1932-34) and the Students Art Center (1935-40), where he was taught by the sculptor Sargent Johnson. In 1941, he moved to Washington, DC and studied at Howard University. In 1946, along with Elizabeth Catlett, he was awarded the Julius Rosenwald Fellowship to produce a series of portrait paintings of outstanding African Americans. Dempsey was part of the Loïs Mailou Jones & Céline Tabary Studio Group, which also included Delilah Pierce and Alma Thomas, and showed at the Barnett-Aden Gallery in Washington, DC through the 1950s. By 1961, he was included in the important Howard University Gallery of Art exhibition, New Vistas in American Art, and in Cedric Dover's seminal book American Negro Art which illustrated four of his paintings - including the similar 1958 Cityscape.