Created by
Baker, Rachelle A., American
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 process sketch created by Rachelle A. Baker for the March 2021 cover of Elle Decor magazine. The sketch is a symbolic re-imagining of Nancy Lancaster’s famous “Yellow Room," and features the figure of a Black woman seated in the foreground amidst the distinct elements of the room rendered in colorful sketched outlines against a white background.
At the very top of the image, the word [ELLE] appears vertically, beside the word [DECOR], in large uppercase dark-green letters. The issue date [MARCH 2021] appears beneath the "R." At center, in smaller handwritten dark green text is [THE LATEST ISSUE] above two lines of placeholder text. The woman appears seated in the bottom center left foreground, she appears light blue, with darker blue sketched outlines. She sits leaning slightly forward, her elbows on her knees. Behind her, the room's furnishings appear in a rainbow of colors: a burgundy chandelier is suspended from the bright yellow cove ceiling. Along the left wall, purple framed pieces hang from the yellow cornice above, on the back wall is a red paneled door within an orange doorway flanked by two orange urns on wall shelves, and red draperies and a green frame appear on the right wall, above a burgundy potted plant and blue settee with cushions. In the foreground, just behind the seated woman is a green folding screen and a blue rectangular table flanked by two free-standing red columns with red vases containing large orange plants on top of them. To the far left, there is also a circular green side table with a green lamp.
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
© Rachelle Baker, ® Elle Decor

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