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(WRIGHT, Richard.) KRAVITT, Samuel, photographer.

Original portrait photograph.

Samuel Kravitt, New York , [c.1938-40] Stock Code: 101426
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A striking and uncommon three-quarter length studio portrait of the celebrated American author Richard Wright (1908-1960), who was "among the first African American writers to protest white treatment of blacks, notably in his novel Native Son (1940) and his autobiography, Black Boy (1945). He inaugurated the tradition of protest explored by other black writers after World War II" (Ency. Brit.).

The photographer Samuel Kravitt was born in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1913. "He left high school in 1929, intending to become a pilot. After borrowing a World War I aerial camera, however, he decided on a career in photography. From 1930 to 1931, he served as apprentice to Joseph Stone, a local portrait photographer. In 1932, Kravitt opened his first studio at age 19 in downtown New Haven. In the early 1930s, he was commissioned to document the lifestyle of the Shaker community in Hancock, Massachusetts. He subsequently relocated to New York and was staff photographer for the New York World's Fair Corporation from 1937 to 1939, documenting the construction of the Fair. Kravitt returned to New Haven in 1940, opening a studio in the Yale Record Building. He made a transition from still photography to filmmaking during the 1950s and in 1962 founded Associated Film Consultants, a New York-based independent production company. Kravitt died in 2000" (Yale University Library online).

This sensitive image of Wright was presumably taken following the publication of his first book, a collection of short stories entitled Uncle Tom's Children, issued in the spring of 1938, which sold well and drew glowing reviews. The portrait captures something of what Wright's friend and fellow author Ralph Ellison wrote in an appreciation: "He had the kind of confidence that jazzmen have. He was well aware of the forces ranked against him, but in his quiet way he was as arrogant in facing up to them as was Louis Armstrong in a fine blaring way" ("Remembering Richard Wright" in Collected Essays, 1995).

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Black and white matt photograph (image 330 x 255 mm, overall 540 x 410 mm), original mount with Kravitt's stamp lower right, framed and glazed.


In excellent condition.


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