Richmond Barthe was one of the first sculptors to focus on blacks as his main subjects. During the 1930s and 1940s, when he reached the height of his career, Barthe achieved critical acclaim, commercial success, and widespread popularity. The African American community, in particular, responded positively to Barthe’s sympathetic portrayals of blacks. “Aesthetically, he brought a new insight to the individuality and physical grace of all types of black people,”Romare Bearden and Harry Henderson wrote in A History of African-American Artists.
Barthe’s sculptures have been collected by the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Smithsonian Institution, as well as many other museums and universities. His most famous public works include an eagle that stands in front of the Social Security Building in Washington, DC, and a 40-foot statue of Haitian revolutionary Jean Jacques Dessalines, which he created for the city of Port-au-Prince. Barthe also designed several Haitian coins that are still in use.
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