NEW ORLEANS – Ogden Museum of Southern Art is proud to announce the reveal of the recently conserved 19th century painting, Bélizaire and the Frey Children. This painting includes the figure of an enslaved boy that was intentionally painted out and only recently uncovered and restored to the composition. Through the recent research and contributions of Jeremy K. Simien and Katy Morlas Shannon, the children in the painting were identified, and Bélizaire’s story was revealed. This historic painting will be on view at the Museum starting Friday, July 1 through Sunday, October 2, 2022.
This painting was commissioned in 1837 by Frederick Frey – a wealthy German merchant and banker – and his wife Coralie D’Aunoy Favre – a member of an elite family in New Orleans. It depicts Elizabeth, Léontine and Frederick Frey Jr., as well as Bélizaire – the fifteen-year-old enslaved domestic owned by the children’s father. The Frey’s had acquired Bélizaire when he was six, selling him in 1856 to the owners of Evergreen Plantation as they dealt with economic hardships.
“This 19th-century Louisiana painting is a beautiful yet painful reminder of the history and legacy of slavery in the United States,” expressed Bradley Sumrall, Curator of the Collection at Ogden Museum of Southern Art. “While the idealized treatment of Bélizaire in the composition does little to convey the trauma of forced labor and enslavement, his erasure was an attempt to remove him completely from history. By uncovering this figure through careful conservation and through the research that revealed the harsh reality of Bélizaire’s life – this painting restores not only the formal integrity of a historic painting but also a certain level of humanity to the painful narrative of enslavement.”
Bélizaire and the Frey Children is attributed to Jacques Guillaume Lucien Amans, a neoclassical portrait painter. The painting remained in the Frey family until 1972 when the great-great-granddaughter of Coralie Frey donated the painting to a Louisiana museum. The painting remained in storage until 2005, at which point it was deaccessioned and sold at auction. While in the holdings of a private collector, the painting underwent conservation, finally revealing the image of Bélizare that had been blotted away all those years ago.
The Museum will showcase this important painting in Louisiana history through October 2, 2022.
About Ogden Museum of Southern Art
Located in the vibrant Warehouse Arts District of downtown New Orleans, Louisiana since 1999 and open to the public since 2003, Ogden Museum of Southern Art invites visitors to experience and learn about the artists and culture of the American South. Ogden Museum is home to a collection of more than four thousand works, making it the largest and most comprehensive repository dedicated to Southern art in the nation, with particular strength in the genres of Self-Taught art, Regionalism, photography, and contemporary art. The Museum is further recognized for its original exhibitions, public events and educational programs, which examine the development of visual art alongside Southern traditions of music, literature and local craft.
Ogden Museum is open daily from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Admission is free to Museum Members and $13.50 for adults, $11 for seniors 65 and older, $6.75 for children ages 5-17 and free for children under 5.
The Museum is located at 925 Camp Street, New Orleans, Louisiana 70130. For more information visit ogdenmuseum.org or call 504.539.9650.