George Biddle, Frank Loper aet suae 86
Biddle met Frank Loper in 1936 when he was teaching at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center; Loper was the center’s elderly doorman. That Loper had once been enslaved by Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States, was not lost on the artist. There are two ways to look at Biddle’s print. On the one hand, long after emancipation, Loper remains in service, as evidenced by his doorman’s uniform. On the other hand, the portrait portrays Loper as a strong man who has lived through history and emerged knowing and wise.
In 1938, A. Conger Goodyear, president of New York’s Museum of Modern Art, included Biddle’s print in the exhibition Three Centuries of American Art. The show traveled to Paris and was intended to represent the best of American culture to a beleaguered Europe. MoMA familiarized Biddle’s title to “Frankie Loper.”