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Print - The History of Her Life Written Across Her Face
  • The History of Her Life Written Across Her Face
    Humphrey, Margo, born 1942
  • Enlarge image

The History of Her Life Written Across Her Face

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    United States (made)

  • Date:

    1991 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Humphrey, Margo, born 1942 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Colour lithograph and collage on paper

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Judith Brodsky

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, room 514a

This print by Margo Humphrey recounts her personal experiences as an African-American artist and woman. A bold and simplified self portrait is overwritten with images, symbols and script which retell a personal narrative. The same narrative is presented in a piece of handwritten text pasted to the portrait. Humphrey began sketches for this portrait in 1986, inspired by images of veiled women and by a National Geographic photograph of a woman with a Sanskrit prayer tattooed across her face.

Humphrey studied printmaking at the California College of Arts and Crafts and received her MFA in printmaking from Stanford University. After her studies, she travelled in Europe, Brazil, the Caribbean and Africa. She taught art in Benin, Nigeria and Uganda. Humphrey’s interest in oral traditions and storytelling is also apparent in this work.

Physical description

Simplified self portrait overlaid with images, symbols and script. Colour lithograph with metallic leaf and chine colle on paper

Place of Origin

United States (made)


1991 (made)


Humphrey, Margo, born 1942 (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Colour lithograph and collage on paper

Marks and inscriptions

Handwritten text pasted to images front:
'It was in the spring of 79 that she first flew to NYC to see art. The angels kept her safe. She met a man in Chicago, they became lovers. Her lover made a bad move. For balance; her mom and dad dead. The ladder of life is a mystery. Her twins were born in 82. She went through the fire and the rain. TESTED. SURVIVED. Like the devil himself had taken over, but you see, not so. Her faith kept her strong and she longed to be free. She had no choice but to dig in deep for a chance to make it happen. So she rose to the occasion screaming all the way. And fighting. MH 1989/1990'

19/30 The History of her life written across her face Margo Humphrey 91


Height: 81 cm unmounted, Width: 74.5 cm unmounted

Descriptive line

Margo Humphrey, 'The History of her life written across her face', colour lithograph, 1992

Labels and date

[From leaflet] 'The American Margo Humphrey (b.1942) draws us into a more personal history through the engaging device of a child's reading game. Yet the hieratic face and byzantine gaze command the respect usually reserved for religious icons.' []




Lithograph; Collage

Subjects depicted

Autobiography; Self-portraits


Black History


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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