Silver gelatin portrait photograph of James Baldwin (1924-1987). Carl Van Vechten: New York, September 23, 1955. Van Vechten's blind-stamp imprint to lower left, verso with stamp and ink notations identifying Baldwin, the date of sitting, with Van Vechten number: "XV NN 2." 6.75 x 10 in. A half-length portrait of the pioneering author wearing a terrycloth polo shirt, his arms crossed. Taken shortly before his first non-fiction book, Notes of a Native Son, was published.
Carl Van Vechten was well-connected to the people and places of the Harlem Renaissance at a time when racial segregation and Jim Crow laws were intense. Throughout the 1920s, he indulged in the parties and social scene of New York's Black creative class, which he captured in his provocatively titled novel Nigger Heaven. When the Depression came, he stopped writing novels and began taking photographs, most notably of influential African Americans, taking iconic portraits of thought leaders, entertainment stars, sports figures, artists, writers of the Harlem Renaissance, and more. His collection of over 9000 images, mostly portraits, is held at the Beinecke Library at Yale University.
Minor spotting on verso only.
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