Nancy Elizabeth Prophet
Nancy Elizabeth Prophet, American, Negro Head, before 1927, Wood; 52.1 x 27.9 x 35.6 cm (20 1/2 x 11 x 14 inches), Gift of Miss Eleanor B. Green 35.780
Nancy Elizabeth Prophet was born in Rhode Island, the daughter of a Native American father and an African American mother. While studying at Rhode Island School of Design she married Francis Ford, the presumed model for Negro Head. The frank realism and exposed toolmarks of this moving portrait reflect her own struggles as a female artist of color. Early in the 1920s, Prophet moved to Paris and gained recognition at annual Salon exhibitions. Encouraged by Henry Ossawa Tanner and admired by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, who purchased her work, she went on to teach at Atlanta’s Spelman College.