London, Greater London, England, United Kingdom, Europe
London, Greater London, England, Europe
For this commission for the cover of Elle Decor magazine, illustrator Rachelle A. Baker was asked to “re-see" the iconic “Yellow Room” designed by American socialite and decorator Nancy Lancaster for her home on London’s Avery Row. The original room featured marigold yellow walls along with two “blackamoor” figure tables. The term “blackamoor” describes a dark-skinned Black figure, often a man. The use of blackamoor depictions in decorative arts began in the 17th Century and expanded in popularity through the 1850s to 1890s. The figures are most often shown holding tables or trays above their heads, while wearing brightly colored gold and jeweled turbans or jewelry, and are common representations of race, bondage, and exoticism in the decorative arts. Baker told NMAAHC she “re-imagined the room as something more modern and featured a seated figure (a Black woman), making eye contact with the viewer and commanding the room.”
Baker’s illustration was one of two featured covers for the March 2021 issue of the magazine, the first complete issue overseen by Elle Décor’s first Black editor, Asad Syrkett.
A digital process sketch created by Rachelle A. Baker for the March 2021 cover of Elle Decor magazine. The sketch is a symbolic re-imagining of Nancy Lancaster’s famous “Yellow Room," and features the distinct elements of the room rendered in colorful sketched outlines against a white background.
At the very top of the image, the word [ELLE] appears vertically, beside the word [DECOR], in large uppercase dark-green letters. The issue date [MARCH 2021] appears beneath the "R." At center, in smaller handwritten dark green text is [THE LATEST ISSUE] above two lines of placeholder text. The sketch depicts the room's furnishings in a rainbow of bright colors: the cove ceiling and cornices are in orange, the center doorway on the far wall is in blue and flanked by orange urns on wall shelves. On the left wall is bright green drapery and on the right are sets of four square frames on either side of a center rectangular mirror in pink. The central seating arrangement has two dark green armchairs in front of four green panels. The chairs face a red sofa, the back of which is to the viewer. Surrounding pieces include a purple bergere chair next to a yellow chest, an aquamarine lamp next to an empty easel, an orange lamp on a floating purple table, and a dark green side table. In the foregound is half of a round table with two chairs sketched in blue. The viewer looks over the table towards a red sofa table topped by a flower arrangement and two decorative jars, all in burgundy.