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Kitchen Ball at White Sulphur Springs, Virginia (work of art)

Información sobre la obra de arte

Estadounidense (nacido en Alemania)
24 x 29 1/2 inches (61.0 x 74.9 centimeters)


Comprado con fondos del Estado de Carolina del Norte

Número de objeto
Americana a 1910

Ideas clave sobre esta obra de arte

  • This genre painting depicts Black men and women dancing in the kitchen of a resort. 
  • White Sulphur Springs is a city in West Virginia. It was a popular summer destination for wealthy white Southerners in the 1800s. Plantation owners often visited the mountain resorts in White Sulphur Springs, to escape the heat and humidity.
  • This painting was created during slavery in America. 
  • The artist depicted each person in the painting as a unique individual in a detailed outfit. Most images of Black people created at the time were racist caricatures. A scene depicting the private lives of Black individuals was rare in the pre-Civil War South.
  • Christian Friedrich Mayr was a German-American artist known for his portraits and genre paintings. He also worked in daguerreotype, an early version of photography.

Más información

This rare antebellum scene focuses entirely on a group of African Americans, likely a mix of enslaved people and free Black workers who staffed a resort in what is now West Virginia or accompanied white enslavers who visited. A portraitist turned genre painter, Mayr portrayed each impeccably dressed subject in a remarkably individualized manner, departing from common representations that caricatured Black figures during the period.

Yet, significant questions remain. Is this jovial portrayal only a celebration of Southern Black life, or would it have aligned with anti-abolitionist sentiments that minimized the horrors of slavery? Is Mayr a sympathetic narrator or an interloper, intruding upon a space of Black vitality?

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  • A painting depicting a candlelit kitchen full of people. Several couples dance in the middle of the room. Approximately 30 other people sit or stand around the room. On the right side of the painting, three musicians play stringed instruments and a flute. There is a dog in the foreground, and a man is reaching up to light a candle in the background.

    Kitchen Ball at White Sulphur Springs, Virginia