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Photo of the Week #149

James Van Der Zee

James Van Der Zee Couple, Harlem, 1932

Couple, Harlem, 1932


July 6, 2021
James Van Der Zee was the most successful portrait photographer working in Harlem amidst the Jazz Age. Van Der Zee photographed this couple in their gleaming Cadillac V-16, an automobile that would have been the pride of any owner. The V-16 was Cadillac's top-of-the-line model in the 1930s and has been a symbol of prestige since its debut at the New York City automobile show in 1930—to this day it is regarded as one of the finest automobiles of the prewar era. This picture epitomizes the dignified and urbane sophistication that the Harlem Renaissance came to represent for Black Americans.