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Audio Stop 209

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In this vertical portrait, an elderly woman with brown skin, wearing a blouse, apron, and skirt is painted with a limited palette of grays, browns, black, and whites. Her head, torso, and lap nearly fill the composition. She is shown straight-backed against a neutral gray background, facing and looking at us with her hands resting in her lap. Her wavy, iron-gray hair is parted in the center and pulled back from her face. Her eyebrows are slightly raised and her face is deeply lined down her cheeks and around her mouth. She wears a heart-shaped brooch with a red stone at its center at her neck and a gold band on her left ring finger. The light coming from our left casts a shadow against the wall to our right. The artist signed and dated the painting in the lower right corner: “A.J. MOTLEY. JR. 1922.”

Archibald John Motley Jr.

Portrait of My Grandmother, 1922

West Building, Main Floor - Gallery 71

District of Columbia Public Schools social worker Rhoda Matthews explores beauty and persistence in Motley’s intimate portrait of his grandmother.

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