Lynette Yiadom-Boakye

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye (b. 1977)

First Flight, 2015 

Suite of ten etchings

Each sheet: 15 ⅜ × 10 ⅝ inches

Printed by Arcane Studios, London

Edition: 10

Courtesy the artist, Corvi-Mora, London and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.

© 2020 Lynette Yiadom-Boakye 

These works are available. Inquire


First Flight may at first seem to be a collection of highly individual portraits, yet they have no specific models or sitters; Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s prints depict fictional characters. A painter who has explored etching in recent years, Yiadom-Boakye makes striking images of invented, predominantly black figures with candid, unreadable expressions. Here, ten men in various profile and three-quarter views are depicted wearing feathered ruffs, a fixture of the artist’s repertoire. Although her work has inspired comparison to various historical masters—and the ruffs evoke the fashion of 16th and 17th century European paintings—First Flight has no direct or singular art historical source material. Instead, it toys loosely with the Western canon’s motifs and methodology. Using complete invention, Yiadom-Boakye’s prints ask: What makes a portrait a portrait? Who is represented? How do we react to the bodies we see in art, and why?



Jennifer Farrell,

Associate Curator, Department of Drawings and Prints at The Metropolitan Museum of Art

00:00 / 03:58

People are tempted to politicize the fact that I paint black figures, and the complexity of this is an essential part of the work. But my starting point is always the language of painting itself and how that relates to the subject matter.

Anthony Van Dyck (1599–1641)
(Lucas Vorsterman I, engraver)

Theodorus Galle, ca. 1632-1641,

from the "Iconography"


Plate: 9 ¼ × 6 ¼ inches 

Sheet: 9 ¾ × 6 ⅝ inches

Published by Maarten van den Enden, Antwerp

Photo: National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne


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