Silver gelatin portrait photograph of Diahann Carroll (1935-2019). Carl Van Vechten: New York, March 14, 1955. Van Vechten's blind-stamp imprint to lower left, verso with stamp and ink notations identifying Carroll, the date of sitting, with Van Vechten number "XII. MM. 7," 7.5 x 10 in. A three-quarter length portrait of the 20-year old actress and singer wearing a high-necked, form-fitting lace dress with three-quarter length sleeves and a drop waist full skirt. Taken just a year after film debut in Carmen Jones (1954) in which she was a friend to the lead character played by Dorothy Dandridge. The same year she starred in House of Flowers on Broadway. Her storied career saw success in movies (nominated for the Best Actress Academy Award in Claudine, 1974), theater (winning the 1962 Best Actress in a Musical Tony for No Strings), music (winning the 1963 Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album, also for No Strings), and television (winning the 1968 Golden Globe Best Female TV Star for Julia). A beautiful image of the entertainment icon at the start of her illustrious career.
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.
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