Jewels in Her Crown: Treasures of Columbia University Libraries Special Collections

Exhibition Themes > Music > 236. Boris Artzybasheff

236. Boris Artzybasheff (1899-1965).  Marian Anderson. Painting in tempera and pencil for the cover of Time, December 30, 1946. RBML, Art Collection

During the 1930s, Arturo Toscanini had told the American contralto Marian Anderson, "A voice like yours comes but once in a century." In 1941, when she booked Constitution Hall in Washington, D. C. for a concert, her booking was cancelled by the Daughters of the American Revolution, the owners of the hall. Walter White of the NAACP told Eleanor Roosevelt what had happened, suggesting that the concert could be held out of doors on government property. Mrs. Roosevelt called Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes, and the concert was held on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial before a crowd of 75,000. Despite this triumph, Marian Anderson did not make her Metropolitan Opera debut until 1955, when she was fifty-three, becoming the first African American to sing at the Met.

Bequest of Boris Artzybasheff, 1965

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