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Mary Bell
American Mixtures of the Ethiopian Race
Crayon on paper
20.5 x 15.5 inches
Carl Van Vechten Papers



Boston artist Mary Bell worked as a maid for the sister of Mrs. Gaston Lachaise; Carl Van Vechten, an avid collector of African-American art, learned of her unusual drawings through her employer and purchased many of them, usually for a very small fee. An untrained artist, Bell made her drawings in crayon and pencil on the fragile, tissue-like paper used in making dress patterns. Describing the women in American Mixtures of the Ethiopian Race, Bell wrote, “The girl in the center is octoroon, the girl on the left the Creole type, [the girl on] the right is the so called chocolate type.”



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