1) Gentleman with Negro Attendant by Ralph Earl, 1785-88. New Britain Museum of American Art.
2) Jaavon with Unknown Gentleman by Titus Kaphar. New Britain Museum of American Art.
"Earl’s portrait depicts a large, well-dressed white man waited on by a young black boy. This kind of portrait – where a servant is portrayed only as a sign of the wealth of his master – was common in Colonial America. As Kaphar elaborates, ‘In the original painting, Gentleman with Negro Attendant the black child is stripped of all identity. He has no name, grotesquely articulated features and is bereft of human dignity. In Jaavon and the Unknown Gentleman, the black figure is replaced with a living and particular child – my young neighbor.’ In repainting Earl’s original work, Kaphar returns specificity to the figure of the black boy. The “gentleman”, however, becomes “unknown”, as Kaphar cuts holes in the canvas where the head and hands of the “gentleman” were once rendered. By changing the original title, Kaphar further shifts the underlying power structure in Earl’s portrait.”—NBMAA Blog