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Untitled (Black Elephant with a Brown Ear)

Folk and Self-Taught Art

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Untitled (Black Elephant with a Brown Ear)

Artwork Details


Bill Traylor
American, 1854–1949


ca. 1939–1940


Poster paint and pencil on paper

Accession #



14 5/8 x 25 3/4 inches


On View - Stent Family Wing, Skyway, Gallery 407


Traylor’s dynamic use of line is evident in the subtle dorsal curve of an elephant that he might have seen at a traveling circus in Montgomery, Alabama, where he spent the final decade of his life. Supple undulations add energy to this portrait of a calm but powerful beast. Traylor’s unique distillation of the world around him did not attract widespread critical acclaim until long after his death, but in 2018, he became the first artist born into slavery to have a retrospective at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.


T. Marshall Hahn Collection