“To S.M., a young African painter, on seeing his works,” in a copy of her 1773 edition of Poem On Various Subjects, Religious And Moral.  PHILLIS WHEATLEY

“To S.M., a young African painter, on seeing his works,” in a copy of her 1773 edition of Poem On Various Subjects, Religious And Moral.

PHILLIS WHEATLEY

SCIPIO MOORHEAD

Born around 1750, Scipio Moorhead was a portrait engraver. Although he was born a slave of the Reverend John Moorhead of Boston, his talents for drawing were tutored by Sarah Moorhead, the wife of the Reverend.  

Moorhead had the usual rights of free workers. He was commissioned by Phillis Wheatley, the first African American to publish a book of poems, to execute her portrait.

The recognition of Scipio’s work came about through the documented inscription of Wheatley.Not much is known about the man who captured Wheatley’s likeness, and if it weren’t for her, Moorhead’s name might have been completely
lost to history.