Portrait of a Farmer's Wife


Robert Gwathmey ( American, 1903 - 1988 )

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General Description

This silkscreen is based on an oil painting Robert Gwathmey completed three years previously. The idea for the original composition came from a year Gwathmey spent on a North Carolina tobacco farm in 1944, creating images of the southern black farmer. The geometric structure calls to mind the patterning in African and African American textiles.

Although Caucasian, Gwathmey often worked with African American themes. From an early age, growing up in a fatherless working-class family, he empathized with working people, both black and white. His years traveling, first in the United States as a freighter and later in Europe as an artist, emphasized to him the plight of African Americans in the South.

Excerpt from

William Keyse Rudolph, DMA label copy, 2005.

Fun Facts

  • Robert Gwathmey was married to photographer, Rosalie Gwathmey. Their son, Charles Gwathmey was an architect. His firm oversaw the renovation of the Guggenheim Museum in New York City.

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