(Untitled) Fruit Vendor


(Untitled) Fruit Vendor


Alfredus Williams (1875-1967)

Signed Williams (lower right)

Dated 1959 (lower right)

Oil on board

Sight Size: 16 x 12 in. (40.6 x 30.5 cm.)

Provenance: The Melvin Holmes Collection of African American Art

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Alfredus Williams (1875-1967) was a pioneering, self-taught Afro-Caribbean artist born on the island of Dominica in the West Indies whose body of work crossed many genres, including landscapes, portraits, figure paintings, and still-lifes. Working primarily in oil and in a manner reflecting the “primitive” or “intuitive” styles arising from the West Indian folk art tradition, Williams composed a body of work laden with mystical and magical-realist elements, often highly detailed and with rich primary colors. The settings of his work included his native Dominica, as well as North Africa and the island of Bermuda. His Bermudian Work from 1959 is considered the earliest Outside Art relating to the island. For many years he lived and worked in the historic Harlem neighborhood of New York City. 

Though he did not seriously take up painting until the age of 65, Williams’ work began to appear in New York City shows in the 1950s, including the “Art on the Square” exhibiton in Washington Square Park in 1956, and the “Fourth Annual Exhibition of Negro Art,” held at the Jo Marino Gallery in 1958. Posthumously, his work was featured in the major group retrospective, “Visionary Landscapes: Work of Three Self-Taught Painters,” held at the Ross Gallery in New York City in 1996. In addition to Williams, the show also featured the work of Minnie Evans and Louis Monza. 

Having worked well into his eighties, Williams’ contributions as a key figure in the development and legacy of twentieth century African-American art have earned him representation in several important reference books, including Theresa Cedarholm’s Afro-American Artists: A Bio-Bibliographical Dictionary, Roslyn Walker’s A Research Guide to the Visual Arts of Afro-Americans, and Ralph Harley Jr.’s A Checklist of Afro-American Art and Artists.

From Jet , Oct 1958:

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