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Phila. museum sells a major portrait to fund renovations

(Stephan Salisbury, Philadelphia InquirerOne of the earliest formal portraits of an African American – a well-known oil painting of a kufi-wearing free black painted by Charles Willson Peale in 1819 – has been sold by the Philadelphia History Museum at the Atwater Kent to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

The striking portrait of Yarrow Mamout, an elderly Muslim and former slave living in Washington D.C., is the most recent in a string of art and artifact sales made by the history museum, largely to finance its $5.9 million building renovation project.

Timothy Rub, art museum director, declined to discuss the painting’s price, but other sources speculated that it would be at least $1.5 million.