James Van Der Zee (American, Lenox, Massachusetts 1886–1983 New York)
Gelatin silver print with applied color
Gift of James Van DerZee Institute, 1970
Not on view
During the 1920s and 1930s, Van Der Zee enjoyed a reputation as Harlem’s preeminent portrait photographer, catering to everyone from proud parents, shopkeepers, and newlyweds to such luminaries as Marcus Garvey, Bill Robinson, and Adam Clayton Powell Sr. An inventive photographer and printer, Van Der Zee, whose career spanned more than seventy years, used a variety of means—including props, painted backdrops, photomontage, and retouching—to achieve his desired effects. Here, he poses his subject like a reclining Venus, surrounding her with drapery and flowers, and adds color through the application of pigment.
The James Van DerZee Institute
McGhee, Reginald. The World of James Van DerZee: A Visual Record of Black Americans. New York: Grove Press, 1973. p. 95.