Self-Portrait by Leroy E. Mitchell, Jr.
Oil on canvas, 1949. 660x508 mm; 26x20 inches. Signed and dated in oil, lower left.
Provenance: private Michigan collection.
This striking self-portrait of a young, confident artist is a remarkable discovery, rescued from a Roseville, MI dump.Charles McGee identified this as a self-portrait by his fellow Detroit artist Leroy Mitchell. Sadly, not much is known today about the career of an apparently very talented artist.
Like Hughie Lee-Smith and Charles McGee, Mitchell studied art at Wayne State University. Mitchell showed in the annual exhibition for Michigan artists at the Detroit Institute of Arts in 1947-48, 1950-1951, and 1956 and his work is featured in the exhibition catalogues. McGee described to the owner of this painting how Mitchell migrated to Ghana in the early 1960s until poor health forced his return to the United States. A Pan Africanist and intellectual, Mitchell ran for Secretary of Treasury on the “Freedom Now Party” ballot in 1963, and his book Africa Come Back was published by the Ghanaian government in 1988. Additionally, Mitchell was formerly of the faculty of Arts, U.S.T. Kumasi, Ghana, West Africa.