Kerry James Marshall has donated his first formal portrait of a living person to the University of Cambridge. The portrait is of Henry Louis Gates Jr. the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and director of the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research at Harvard University. Professor Gates holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in English language and literature from Clare College at the University of Cambridge.
A native of Birmingham, Alabama, Marshall grew up in Los Angeles. He earned a bachelor of fine arts degree from Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles and was awarded a MacArthur Foundation “genius award” in 1997. Marshall taught at the School of Art and Design at the University of Illinois Chicago from 1993 to 2006.
The portrait is now on public display at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. The portrait was originally intended to hang in Clare College, Professor Gates told the London Guardian. “Once they realized it was by Kerry James Marshall, it couldn’t be hung in some common room with students spilling beer everywhere.”
The portrait is only the second work by Kerry James Marshall to be displayed in a public institution in the United Kingdom.