Intense yellow brings a sacred and redemptive light to Beauford Delaney’s portraits of people he admired, as seen here framing the writer and Civil Rights activist James Baldwin (1924–1987). Though Delaney often exhibited with Harlem Renaissance artists, he preferred the company of intellectual circles in New York’s Greenwich Village. His abstract, colorful, and highly textured paintings found many admirers, including Alfred Stieglitz, Stuart Davis, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Baldwin, who was only a teenager when they first met in 1940. Delaney became a spiritual mentor to the budding writer based on their mutual struggles against poverty, racism, and homophobia, and this portrait, created 25 years later, celebrates their lifelong creative friendship.



  • Title: Portrait of James Baldwin
  • Creator: Beauford Delaney
  • Date Created: 1965
  • Location Created: America
  • Physical Dimensions: 25 1/2 × 21 1/4 in. (64.8 × 54 cm)
  • Credit Line: Museum purchase
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: © Derek Spratley and the Estate of Beauford Delaney c/a Levis Fine Art, Inc.
  • Medium: Oil on canvas

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