Van Der Zee, a portrait photographer, worked in New York during the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and 1930s. His subjects range from families and newly married couples to public figures such as Marcus Garvey. In Baptism Celebration to Maria Warma Mercado, Van Der Zee recorded the assembled party in their finest attire, complete with celebratory hats. This picture was taken in a private home, but the artist made many of his portraits in his studio, using a range of props and backdrops. Largely self-taught, Van Der Zee developed a retouching technique, often painting directly onto the negative or print to achieve his desired level of idealization.
Gallery label from Printin', February 15-May 14, 2012.