II

Narratives of African American Art and Identity

Loïs Mailou Jones

Notre-Dame de Paris, 1936

Oil on canvas

14.25" x 17.25"


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Notre-Dame de Paris

During the 1937-1938 academic year, after receiving a General Education Board fellowship to study at the Académie Julian, Loïs Mailou Jones traveled to Paris with the hopes of following in the footsteps of respected artists such as Picasso, Monet, and Tanner. Impressed by Paris's racially progressive atmosphere, Jones painted at a prolific pace, capturing France's gardens, historic churches, quaint urban scenes, and landscapes. Working primarily as a painter, Jones's style rapidly evolved from design-based illustration into the impressionistic palette exemplified in her Notre-Dame de Paris.

In 1952 Jones published a reproduction of Notre-Dame de Paris in an ambitious artist's book entitled Loïs Mailou Jones: Peintures 1937-1951. After its publication, Jones incorporated the book into her classroom lectures at Howard University as a required text for her course. Driskell, who in 1952 was among Jones's many aspiring art students, fondly recalls this text as his first African American art book purchase. Although Jones was not the only art professor at Howard to impress upon students the importance of art acquisition, her dedication to the creation and promotion of African American art and aesthetics undoubtedly had a lasting influence upon the young David Driskell. Thus, it seems only fitting that as Driskell matured as a patron of the arts, he would acquire Jones's original painting of Notre-Dame de Paris for his own collection.   T. F.

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