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Early Works #25: Self-Portrait

Faith Ringgold

Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art

The Museum’s collection has few eighteenth-century portraits of African American subjects, but grouped together, the four nearby portraits of stylish women explore analogous modes of comportment and self-fashioning.

Elizabeth Goldthwait and Abigail Pickman each sat for her portrait on the occasion of her marriage. As was typical of upper-class white women in the colonial United States, they did not control their own depictions, which served to project the family’s stability and wealth. During the period right before the American Revolution, the most sought-after artist was the Boston painter John Singleton Copley, who rendered the silks and pearls so admired by the rich.

Dindga McCannon’s portrait honors Akweke Singho, who is seen here richly adorned with African jewelry and brightly colored African textiles, with the title “Empress” to suggest her important place in the Black Arts Movement. In the 1970s, Singho, McCannon, and Faith Ringgold founded the Where We At collective, an Afrocentric organization that questioned the marginalization of Black women artists.

Ringgold portrayed herself with a determined gaze and folded arms, in a gesture simultaneously gentle and guarded. In reflecting on this painting and the political and artistic awakening she experienced during this time, Ringgold has said, “I was trying to find my voice, talking to myself through my art.”
MEDIUM Oil on canvas
DATES 1965
DIMENSIONS 50 × 40 in. (127 × 101.6 cm) frame: 52 7/16 × 44 1/2 × 2 3/4 in. (133.2 × 113 × 7 cm) weight with painting framed: 40 lb. (18.14kg)  (show scale)
CREDIT LINE Gift of Elizabeth A. Sackler
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CAPTION Faith Ringgold (American, 1930–2024). Early Works #25: Self-Portrait, 1965. Oil on canvas, 50 × 40 in. (127 × 101.6 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Elizabeth A. Sackler, 2013.96. © artist or artist's estate (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 2013.96_PS9.jpg)
IMAGE overall, 2013.96_PS9.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2015
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RIGHTS STATEMENT © Faith Ringgold, 1965
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