H x W (unframed): 54 1/8 × 43 × 2 1/2 in. (137.5 × 109.2 × 6.4 cm)
Baltimore, Maryland, United States, North and Central America
Grand Dame Queenie was created in response to the exhibition, Revealing the African Presence in Renaissance Europe, which opened at the Walters Art Museum in 2013. The exhibition surveyed the images of Africans who were enslaved, served as merchants, and were rulers during the period. Sherald asserts that in order to comprehend our contemporary construction of race, one needs to understand the genesis of the concept, which began with the “discovery” of the African continent by Europeans.
Through her painting’s symbolism, including the teacup with the cameo of a Black woman’s head, Sherald explores the construct and history of Blackness. “My work delves into the aspects of assimilation, role-playing and existential dichotomies contained by a developing narrative of Black identity,” she says.
Oil painting that depicts a three-quarter length portrait of a woman with closely cropped hair holding a teacup and saucer decorated with a profile silhouette of a woman’s face. The cup and saucer is white with gold edging. There is a gold wreath around the silhouette. The woman is wearing a high necked red blouse that is tied at the neck with a bright yellow scarf. The long sleeves have ruffles at the cuffs. The shirt is tucked into black and white striped pants with a yellow button. The background fades from a bright blue at the top to bright purple at the bottom. Bright fuchsia splashes are scattered throughout the background. The woman gazes directly at the viewer.