Created by
Baker, Rachelle A., American
Commissioned by
ELLE DECOR, American, founded 1989
H x W: 3900 pixels × 2700 pixels
40.18 MB
For this commission for the cover of Elle Decor magazine, illustrator Rachelle A. Baker was asked to “re-see" the iconic “Yellow Room” designed by American socialite and decorator Nancy Lancaster for her home on London’s Avery Row. The original room featured marigold yellow walls along with two “blackamoor” figure tables. The term “blackamoor” describes a dark-skinned Black figure, often a man. The use of blackamoor depictions in decorative arts began in the 17th Century and expanded in popularity through the 1850s to 1890s. The figures are most often shown holding tables or trays above their heads, while wearing brightly colored gold and jeweled turbans or jewelry, and are common representations of race, bondage, and exoticism in the decorative arts. Baker told NMAAHC she “re-imagined the room as something more modern and featured a seated figure (a Black woman), making eye contact with the viewer and commanding the room.”
Baker’s illustration was one of two featured covers for the March 2021 issue of the magazine, the first complete issue overseen by Elle Décor’s first Black editor, Asad Syrkett.
A digital illustration created by Rachelle A. Baker for the March 2021 cover of Elle Decor magazine. The illustration is a symbolic re-imagining of Nancy Lancaster’s famous “Yellow Room," and features a Black woman wearing a yellow dress, ensconced on a beige sofa in a room with bright yellow walls. The room also features a cream-colored barrel cove ceiling with gilt wood cornices, a crystal chandelier, and a seating arrangement of mostly beige upholstered pieces surrounding a yellow rug atop beige carpeting. Along the left wall, is a large portrait of a woman along with two smaller framed works. The back wall features white double doors replete with mirrored ornamental casing and square panel molding and flanked by pineapple candelabras set on stands. Bookshelves on either side of the doors are stocked with red books and topped with red ornamental vases in front of mirrors in decorative gold frames. Beige curtains with decorative rope tassels drape along the right wall, adjacent to a painting. The woman, who has voluminous black hair, sits on a beige sofa underneath the painting. She wears a loose yellow dress and red heels, leaning slightly forward, with her proper left hand on her cheek and her proper right hand in her lap. A red wingback chair is in the image's foreground, facing a writing desk used as a sofa table, topped by a potted plant, three books, a small bottle, and several other items.
Place depicted
London, Greater London, England, Europe
Visual Arts
Decorative Arts, Craft, and Design
preliminary sketches
digital media - born digital
Interior design
Mass media
Credit Line
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of Rachelle A. Baker
Object number
Restrictions & Rights
Illustration by Rachelle Baker, originally appeared in ELLE DECOR March 2021, a publication of Hearst Magazine Media, Inc., © Hearst Magazine Media, Inc.

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