This portrait represents the network of friendships established among prominent African American women in the wake of the black women’s club movement, which grew in visibility with the founding of the National Association of Colored Women in 1896. Women, including Laura Wheeler Waring and Alice Dunbar-Nelson, came together from a variety of backgrounds to combat negative stereotypes and fight for basic rights. Waring, an established artist who had studied in France between the two world wars, painted Dunbar-Nelson’s portrait in Philadelphia the year she married Walter E. Waring, a Lincoln University professor. By 1927 Dunbar-Nelson was a prominent political activist and journalist and was in demand as a public speaker. The portrait exudes the confidence and self-possession of two accomplished, intellectual women whose friendship helped advance the rights of both women and African Americans.


  • Title: Alice Dunbar Nelson
  • Creator: Laura Wheeler Waring
  • Date Created: 1927
  • Physical Dimensions: h62.4 x w51.4 cm
  • Type: Oil on canvas
  • Rights: National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
  • External Link: https://npg.si.edu/object/npg_NPG.2016.125
  • Classification: Painting

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