The Portraits

Staff member working in collections and putting a painting away

Cutting Squash (Leah Chase)

Title
Leah Chase
Artist
Gustave Blache III, born 1977
Sitter
Leah Chase, born 1923
Date
2010
Type
Painting
Medium
Oil on panel
Dimensions
Stretcher: 21.6 x 25.4cm (8 1/2 x 10")
Frame: 37.1 x 43.8 x 3.8cm (14 5/8 x 17 1/4 x 1 1/2")
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of the artist in honor of Mr. Richard C. Colton, Jr.
Rights
© Gustave Blache III
Object number
C/NPG.2011.144
Culture
Leah Chase: American\African American
Exhibition Label
Leah Chase (born 1923) is reverentially referred to as the “Queen of Creole Cuisine.” In 1945, she married jazz musician Edgar “Dooky” Chase Jr. and joined the family restaurant business in New Orleans. By the 1960s, Dooky Chase’s Restaurant was famous for Leah’s recipes and also served as a gathering spot for civil rights activists, including Martin Luther King Jr., who would join local leaders for strategy sessions over meals upstairs. Native New Orleans artist Gustave Blache made a series of small portraits documenting Leah Chase in the kitchen. Influenced by photojournalism as well as nineteenth-century artists Gustave Courbet and Edgar Degas, Blache’s intimate genre scenes capture Chase’s tireless work ethic. Remembering her working-class background, she reflected on her life, “If you work hard, you can get what you are going after.”
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
See more items in
National Portrait Gallery Collection
Exhibition
The Sweat of Their Face: Portraying American Workers
On View
NPG, West Gallery 250
Place
United States\Louisiana\Orleans\New Orleans