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 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 elements of the room sketched in black lines against a mustard yellow background. Seated on a fringed settee against the right wall is the figure of a Black woman, rendered in blue. She is leaning forward, her right elbow on her knee and her chin in her hand. She looks straight ahead at the viewer. The richly decorated room around her features a barrel cove ceiling with decorative moldings and cornices, suspended from which is a crystal chandelier. The far back wall features paneled double doors in the center, flanked by two decorative urns on small wall shelves. In the foreground, a small writing desk and chair sits in front of a paneled half-screen. There is a lamp on the left side of the desk and two large potted plants sit atop columns on either side. There is also a lamp on a round sidetable at the far left. The blue silhouette of a woman seated on a low sofa stands out in contrast to the otherwise monochromatic sketch.
Place depicted
London, Greater London, England, Europe
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

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