Portrait of a Woman (Cabeza de Negra)

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American (Washington, DC 1915 -)
Portrait of a Woman (Cabeza de Negra), c. 1948
20th century
Lithograph on cream wove paper
Image: 56.5 x 43.5 cm (22 1/4 x 17 1/8 in.)
Sheet: 69.5 x 47 cm (27 3/8 x 18 1/2 in.)
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Margaret Fisher Fund
, 2006.76
Elizabeth Catlett made this portrait of an unknown black woman at the Taller de Gráfica Popular around 1948. As it's name suggests, the Taller was a graphic arts workshop created to serve the Mexican people. The artists who worked there saw themselves as heirs to the nineteenth-century Mexican print tradition of Jose Posada, who created countless political broadsheets. Drawn to their revolutionary politics, Catlett went to work at the Taller in 1946. Her efforts there resulted in the "Negro Women" prints, a series of linocuts that illustrate the historic oppression, resistance, and survival of African American women. Catlett emphasizes and celebrates the racial characteristics of a black woman in this lithograph as well. She highlights her round eyes, broad nose, fleshy lips, smooth dark skin, and scratches away the ink from the litho stone to create the effect of kinky hair.
signed: Lower right in graphite pencil: ECatlett
inscription: verso LL in graphite (inscription revealed after paper adhesive label was removed in conservation lab): Elizabeth Catlett / Cabeza / $150.00
inscription: lower margin in graphite pencil
label: verso: Elizabeth Catlett / "Cabeza" de Negra / Litografia [illegible] / Taller de Grafica Popular
label: verso: Institut[illegible]nal de Bellas Artes - Museo Nacional de Arte Moderno / Oficina de Registro de Obras / Mexico / Autor Elizabeth Catlett 1919 / Titulo "Cabeza de Negra" / Tecnica Litografia / Medidas 56.5 x 43.5 / Pintado (Fecha) / Coleccion Del Autor.