Fred R. Kline Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico


George Wesley Bellows (1882-1925)

Young Black Woman/ Chicago 1919

23 x 20 inches/

Oil on canvas


Verso inscription

"10 minute sketch by George Bellows, Art Institute Chicago, November 4, 1919 / Mel Williams"

Condition Note: The painting, from its original condition, has been professionally cleaned and relined to museum standards under supervision of Fred R. Kline Gallery; a transparent lining was applied to save the verso inscription.


Fred R. Kline first gathered research and attributed to Bellows in 1989.  Kline's attribution was confirmed by Bennard B. Perlman in a written opinion (12.14.89).

Bennard B. Perlman (Independent art historian, noted author and Bellows specialist, Baltimore).  Perlman’s research at Archives of American Art discovered photo of Bellows with his class at Art Institute Chicago, with student Mel Williams in photo.


Consultant Scholars

Dr. Nicolas Cikovsky (Senior Curator, American Paintings, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC)

Dr. Daniel Schulman (Associate Curator 20th c. Art, Art Institute, Chicago)


Supporting Material

Mel Williams: retired as Art Director/Vice President, BBD&O, Chicago, ca.1945.  Letter from Art Institute Chicago verifying Mel Williams enrollment in Bellow’s class.   Photo of Mel Williams with George Bellows and painting class at Art Institute Chicago.

Statement from Steve Williams recounting the painting’s history.

Letters from Perlman, Schulman, Cikovsky, and Kline.



1919-1976: William (“Mel”) Melbourne Williams; Chicago/Tesuque, NM

1976-1989: bequeathed to Steve Williams ( his son, deceased 1.1989 ),

Tesuque, NM

1989: inherited by Mrs. Steve Williams ( his widow ), Tesuque, NM

1989-1992: Fred R. Kline Gallery

1998: Fred R. Kline Gallery, Santa Fe, NM

1998-2010: Private Collection & Estate




Fred R. Kline Gallery. “George Bellows, Young Black Woman—First Exhibition of A Rare Oil Sketch”. Santa Fe, NM. Fall 1989.



“George Bellows, Young Black Woman—First Exhibition of A Rare Oil Sketch”: from 1998.


Research note

Young Black Woman, a rare oil sketch by the artist, is the only known portrait of a black American by George Bellows.  As stated by the supporting material and the verso inscription, Bellows made this oil sketch as a classroom demonstration in a timed 10-minute exercise and then gave the painting to student Mel Williams whose canvas he had used.

Understandably, this painting does not appear in Bellows’s log of paintings.


                                           Private Collection

By appointment