"Renty"

September 19, 2016

Renty, is a chilling evidence of the widespread slavery in the 18th and 19th century across the USA, especially in the south. Renty is the real name of the painted character. The photo of Renty (one in a series of similar photographs), was commissioned by biologist Louis Agassiz and was shot by photographer Zealy J.T in March 1850 to demonstrate the inferiority of the origin of the black man. The photograph that is displayed in the Peabody Museum, Harvard University shows an immortal and rare point of view of the humiliation experienced by Renty as a slave and as an object of scientific curiosity, as there is no other good reason for a black slave to appear on a photograph alone at a time when not everyone could afford to be photographed. I want to thank the museum for the permission to use the photograph and paint it. I remember marveling into his painful gaze. In my painting Renty was left hurt and scarred in his body and soul, but he still stands straight and firm. No more bending. Tough and strong. Renty dares to look directly at anyone who dares to stare back.  

 

 

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