On this Date in History, May 26: Birth of Aaron Douglas, Gwendolyn Knight and Philippe de Champaigne

On this date in history: May 26

What happened in the world of Art History on May 26It was the birthday of three artists.

Aaron Douglas was born on this day in Topeka, Kansas in 1899 (May 26, 1899 – February 3, 1979).   Douglas was an African-American painter and print maker who was an important artist in the Harlem Renaissance.  After studying at the University of Nebraska and the University of Kansas, he moved to New York City where he worked as an illustrator.  He was known for his modern figurative style of paintings and unique color palate.  Later he moved to Nashville where he was a painting professor at Fisk University.  He taught a the University for over two decades and spent the rest of his life in Nashville.  His work and style had a lasting impression on many artists.

Aaron Douglas, Let My People Go, c-1934-39, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Gwendolyn Knight (May 26, 1913 – February 18, 2005) was an American painter who was born in Barbados, moved to America and spent much of her life in Seattle.  Knight studied in New York City during the Harlem Renaissance. She was the wife of painter Jacob Lawrence who was a Professor in the Art Department at the University of Washington.

Knight had a large retrospective when she was nearly 80 years old titled "Never Late for Heaven: The Art of Gwen Knight," at the Tacoma Art Museum in 2003.  The Tacoma Art Museum says this of Knight on their website-

"An expressionistic painter with a strong interest in people, Gwendolyn Knight has developed a fluid sense of design using a brilliant palette of bright greens, reds and blues over the past seventy years. As an artist on one of the federal government’s Depression-era public art projects, Knight met her husband Jacob Lawrence in 1937. They lived in New York City until 1970 when they moved to Seattle. Each maintained their own artistic style, while their humanist interests created a strong intellectual bond. For most of her career Knight painted people who posed for her at home or in various studio settings and recreated scenes from the various neighborhoods in which she lived."

Annunciation, Philippe de Champaigne, 1644, Metropolitan Museum of Art 

Our final artist born this day was Philippe de Champaigne, born in Brussels in 1601 (May 26,1602 – August 12,1674).  He was a Baroque painter who spent the majority of his life in Paris.  He moved to Paris in 1621 to work with the French painter Poussin.  Later de Champaigne became a founding member of the Académie de Peinture et de Sculpture which opened in Paris in 1648.

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