Self-Portrait

A work made of oil on canvas.
© Valerie Gerrard Browne / Chicago History Museum / Bridgeman Images

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  • A work made of oil on canvas.

Date:

c. 1920

Artist:

Archibald John Motley Jr.
American, 1891–1981

About this artwork

Chicagoan Archibald Motley attended the School of the Art Institute at a time when many prominent art academies denied entrance to African American students. His affiliation with the school was thus of great significance to him. Around 1920, as a recent graduate, he painted a self-portrait meant to introduce him as a poised young artist, elegantly presenting himself in a dark suit jacket, crisp white shirt, and a dark tie accented by a diamond horseshoe pin. Furthermore, Motley painted this work following race riots in July 1919, which had heightened tensions in Chicago. The violence convinced him that he should use his art to influence perceptions of African Americans in a positive manner. This sophisticated self-portrait is thus an extraordinary declaration of his goals and ambitions.

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American Art

Artist

Archibald John Motley Jr.

Title

Self-Portrait

Origin

United States

Date

1920

Medium

Oil on canvas

Inscriptions

Signed u.l: "A. J. MOTLEY JR."

Dimensions

76.3 × 56 cm (30 1/8 × 22 1/8 in.)

Credit Line

Through prior acquisitions of Friends of American Art Collection; through prior bequest of Marguerita S. Ritman

Reference Number

1995.239

Copyright

© Valerie Gerrard Browne / Chicago History Museum / Bridgeman Images

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email .

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