Mae Hand, Small Face, 18 Years Old

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    Photo: Stephen Pitkin/Pitkin Studio
1986
Housepaint on wood paneling
30 x 22.5 inches

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Description: 

In the 1940s Mose Tolliver married Willie Mae Thomas, a neighbor and childhood friend. “[She] lived one row over, when I first met her. I liked her smile.” Willie Mae served as a frequent subject for her husband, and she fought to ensure that Tolliver received fair prices for his paintings, especially since he was sometimes inclined to simply give his work away. A treasured photograph of Willie Mae as a teenager served as the inspiration for many of Tolliver’s portraits of his wife, including this remarkable reinterpretation in which she is depicted with a halo of blonde hair. —Lauren Palmor

In the 1940s Mose Tolliver married Willie Mae Thomas, a neighbor and childhood friend. “[She] lived one row over, when I first met her. I liked her smile.” Willie Mae served as a frequent subject for her husband, and she fought to ensure that Tolliver received fair prices for his paintings, especially since he was sometimes inclined to simply give his work away. A treasured photograph of Willie Mae as a teenager served as the inspiration for many of Tolliver’s portraits of his wife, including this remarkable reinterpretation in which she is depicted with a halo of blonde hair. —Lauren Palmor