An Ethiopian Chief Day, Holland  (American, 1864-1933)

The model for this photograph is J. Alexandre Skeetee, a former art student and art editor of Colored American magazine. He was the model for several of Day’s most striking images, including Nubia, Ebony and Menelek. t may have shocked some of the subscribers to Camera Notes to open the October 1897 issue and discover one of the first pictures taken in the United States that ennobled a black American. Here was a vigorous, uncompromising young male, regally draped in a striped North African robe, crowned with a headdress of black pigeon wings. He gripped a staff in one hand and with the other held back the robe to reveal a serene body naked to the navel. It was one of the first photographic embodiments of the idea that ‘Black is beautiful.’

Reproduced / Exhibited

Jussim, Estelle. Slave to Beauty: The Eccentric Life and Controversial Career of F. Holland Day, Photographer, Publisher, Aesthete. Boston: Godine, 1981. p. 108

Peterson, Christian A., Alfred Stieglitz’s Camera Notes, Minneapolis Institute of the Arts, 1993, pl 25

Hirsch, Robert, Seizing The Light, A History of Photography, McGraw Hill, New York, 2000, pl 9.9