Skip to Content

September 28 -
December 2, 2018

Beauford Delaney

(b. 1901 Knoxville, TN d. 1979 Paris, France)

Beauford Delaney who was born in the winter of 1901 in Knoxville, Tennessee was an expatriate African-American painter.  He spent his childhood and teen years in Knoxville.  His father, John Samuel Delaney, was a Methodist minister and his mother, Delia Johnson, was a woman who was born into slavery in Richmond, Virginia.  Delia was naturally artistic and was a talented singer and storyteller.

Delaney was discovered by Lloyd Branson, a well known painter in Knoxville, and began an apprenticeship under him. During the years that Delaney worked under Branson, Delaney painted landscapes in watercolor and oil, several portraits of Knoxville Blacks – in pastel, oil and watercolor – including watercolors in 1922 of his mother and his brother Joe.

Delaney moved to Boston and studied at the Massachusetts Normal School, the Copley Society and the South Boston School of Art.  He spent time admiring the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.  Boston was the place where Delaney matured and began his artistic career.

In 1953, Delaney left New York and traveled to Europe, settling in Paris.  In Europe, he felt a new sense of freedom from racial and sexual biases and began to focus on creating lyrical, colorful non-objective abstractions.

Download Full Biography