Muscarelle Acquires Maya Angelou Photograph

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Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe took and hand-colored this photograph of Maya Angelou in 1993, after which Angelou kept it in her personal collection. The Muscarelle's Board of Directors won their bid for the image last month. (Courtesy Muscarelle Museum of Art)
Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe took and hand-colored this photograph of Maya Angelou in 1993, after which Angelou kept it in her personal collection. The Muscarelle’s Board of Directors won their bid for the image last month. (Courtesy Muscarelle Museum of Art)

The Muscarelle Museum of Art acquired a 1993 photograph of Maya Angelou taken by Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe last month.

The image, which is described as “striking” in a news release from the museum, is a hand-colored black-and-white silvergelatin print.

It was part of the poet’s personal art collection, and was acquired with funds from the museum’s Board of Directors.

Angelou visited the Williamsburg and the College of William & Mary campus several times during her life, and was forced to call off a planned visit in 2014 due to health issues. She died in May 2014.

The photographer, Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe, is the widow of the Arthur Ashe, a famous tennis star and Richmond resident. She studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and under renowned photographer Gary Winogrand. Her work is shown in numerous museums throughout the U.S. and internationally.

“This is a fitting acquisition of an exquisite photograph of the iconic literary and cultural figure who was truly a phenomenal woman,” said Dr. Joanne Braxton, a professor of the humanities and English at William & Mary. Braxton interviewed Angelou numerous times during her life and wrote extensively about her work.

“We are so fortunate to have won the bid to acquire this image of Maya Angelou and to honor her in doing so for our alma mater of a nation,” said Aaron H. De Groft, director & CEO of the Muscarelle Museum of Art. “Angelou transcends time and place as both a poet of our nation, and in her tireless work for decades on behalf of civil rights.”