The painting depicts a festive social gathering of the enslaved servants of the Southern plantation families who had come to a fashionable summer resort in the mountains of what is now West Virginia. It is remarkable for its vivid depiction of Antebellum Black society without resorting to crude caricature and without the unsettling presence of white people.
Because of the white suit and gown of the dancing couple in the foreground, the “kitchen ball” has sometimes been identified as a wedding celebration. However, if one looks closely, two other women wear identical white gowns and floral headbands. So, what’s the occasion?
tags: celebration, dance, community