Kitchen Ball at White Sulphur Springs

Kitchen Ball at White Sulphur Springs

Christian Mayr, Kitchen Ball at White Sulphur Springs, 1838 ( North Carolina Museum of Art) 


McElroy, Guy C. Facing History: The Black Image in American Art, 1710-1940 Corcoran Gallery of Art, 1990. 

Chambers, Thomas A. Drinking the Waters: Creating an American Leisure Class at Nineteenth-Century Mineral Springs (Smithsonian Institution Press, 2002). 

Foster, Helen Bradley. New Raiments of Self: African American Clothing in the Antebellum South. Oxford: Berg, 1997. 

Baumgarten, Linda. What Clothes Reveal: The Language of Clothing in Colonial and Federal Period America . Williamsburg: Colonial Williamsburg , 2002. 

White, Debra Gray. Ar'n't I a Woman? Female Slaves in the Antebellum South. Norton, 1987. 

White, Shane. The Sounds of Slavery: Discovering African American Slavery Through Songs, Sounds, and Speech. Boston: Beacon Press, 2005.


1. The painting is set at a resort in the Virginia Mountains . What does the setting for the painting reveal about elite white culture? Who went to the Springs and what did they do there? 

2. What does it reveal about the life of slaves who accompanied their owners? How did their lives differ from those who worked as field hands? 

3. Some of the slaves depicted in the painting are of mixed race. Discuss the reality of miscegenation and the ways in which mulattoes were treated differently from other African Americans. 

4. To what extent did the music find its origins in Africa? In Europe? What instruments are shown and what does this tell us about African-American musical traditions?

Kitchen Ball at White Sulphur Springs