Julius Bloch, Young Man
In this portrait, Julius Bloch portrays a young black man in an aqua checkered shirt against a red background. An advocate for the equality of races, Bloch frequently took African Americans as his subjects, portraying them with compassion and dignity. Having recently traveled to Ravenna, Italy, Bloch was inspired by the powerful stylization of the figures in early Byzantine mosaics. The sitter’s enlarged, wide-spaced eyes in particular recall the Byzantine aesthetic, as seen in Empress Theodora and Her Attendants, made in around 547, at the Basilica of San Vitale.
Bloch enjoyed a successful career, showing his work nationally and internationally. He also exhibited regularly at the Pyramid Club, a social and cultural club for African American professionals in the Philadelphia. The club held annual invitational exhibitions, open to both black and white artists.