Scipio Moorhead

Artist, Person

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Who is Scipio Moorhead?

Scipio Moorhead was an enslaved African-American artist who lived in Boston, Massachusetts. His only surviving work is a portrait of the African-American poet Phillis Wheatley. Moorhead gained recognition through Phillis Wheatley's inscription "To S. M. a young African Painter, on seeing his Works", published in Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral, 1773.

Moorhead was a slave of the Reverend John Moorhead of Boston, Massachusetts. His talents for drawing were tutored by Sarah Moorhead; the wife of the Rev. which was an art teacher. Although a slave, Scipio Moorhead enjoyed the usual rights of free workers. It is possible that the copperplate engraving of Phillis Wheatley that adorns much of her published poetry is his creation. No original work by Scipio has survived, but he may be the person referred to the a Boston News-Letter advertisement on January 7, 1773, which spoke of a negro artist... A negro of extraordinary genius.

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  • African American
  • United States of America

on July 23, 2013


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