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Family Portrait

Ralph%20Chess%26%23233%3B%2C%20%3Cb%3E%3Ci%3E%20Family%20Portrait%3C%2Fi%3E%3C%2Fb%3E%2C%201944%2C%20oil%20on%20canvas%2C%20Museum%20Purchase%3A%20Funds%20provided%20by%20the%20Bequest%20of%20F.%20Harrison%20Taylor%2C%20%26%23169%3B%20Estate%20of%20Ralph%20Chess%26%23233%3B%2C%202001.19
Ralph Chessé, Family Portrait, 1944, oil on canvas, Museum Purchase: Funds provided by the Bequest of F. Harrison Taylor, © Estate of Ralph Chessé, 2001.19

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Details
Title

Family Portrait

Artist

Ralph Chessé (American, 1900-1991)

Date

1944

Medium

oil on canvas

Dimensions (H x W x D)

25 1/4 in x 28 in

Inscriptions & Markings

title: FAMILY PORTRAIT, verso

signature; date: Chessé '44, brushed, lower left in image

Collection Area

Modern and Contemporary Art; Northwest Art

Category

Paintings

Object Type

painting

Culture

American

Credit Line

Museum Purchase: Funds provided by the Bequest of F. Harrison Taylor

Accession Number

2001.19

Copyright

© Estate of Ralph Chessé

Terms

canvas

families

oil paint

oil paintings

paintings

portraits

Description

Ralph Chessé was an artist, actor, puppeteer, and musician. Born in New Orleans in 1900, he began painting at the age of 17 and later went on to take classes at the Art Institute of Chicago. He relocated to the Bay Area in the 1930s to work for the Federal Arts Project; first painting a mural for the Coit Tower in San Francisco; then later becoming Director of the Puppetry Unit of the Federal Theater project in Los Angeles. During the 1950s, he directed and made puppets for the Brother Buzz show.

Chessé experimented with a variety of styles from cubism to expressionism throughout his career. Much of his work prior to 1956 addresses African American themes or concerns. It was not until his death in Ashland, Oregon, that his family discovered from his birth certificate that Chessé himself was of African heritage and had spent much of his life passing for white to avoid the racism of America.

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