Taking Care of Business in France part 2 – Sandrine Joseph – Arts & Talents

Sandrine Joseph supports the arts in France:

En cr??ant @rts & Talents en 2000, j???ai r??alis?? un r??ve, celui de pouvoir r??unir deux domaines contemporains : les technologies du web et les cr??ations de mes amis artistes. Aujourd???hui la floraison de sites, de blogs, de portails artisitiques et culturels montre la force incroyable que peut d??gager l???union des arts plastiques et num??riques. Visit the Arts & Talents website today.

Guillaume Guillon Lethiere – Black French painter

In 1980, an unsigned painting acquired by the Rhode Island School of Design a few years earlier, was identified as the work of the once-popular French artist, Guillaume Guillon Lethiere who was born in 1760. Although such attributions are rarely newsworthy, what should have made this one more interesting to us as Americans than even the French themselves is information concerning Lethiere’s ancestry that has only recently come to light.

Like Alexandre Dumas, the author of Man In The Iron Mask, Lethiere was a man of color. (I am hoping that the presence of this painting in Rhode Island will prove providential. For, RISD was founded by Providence’s art community to celebrate the prize which one of their members – the African American Edward Bannister – won for landscape painting at the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition in 1876.)

Biographical material on Lethiere always mention he was the illegitimate son of a colonial official from the French West Indian island of Guadalupe. However, it was not until 1977, in a five-volume work on Ingres (who had been a student of his) that Lethiere’s mother was described as a mulatto. Judging from the portraits Ingres did of him, however, she was probably more Caucasian – no doubt, a quadroon like so many of the mixed blood women of the French colonies whether here in New Orleans or des Antilles, whose sway over their white masters had almost become legendary by the end of the 18th century. Read about his life here.