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Bill Traylor

Bill Traylor

William "Bill" Traylor (April 1, 1854 – October 23, 1949) was a self-taught artist born into slavery on a plantation belonging to George Hartwell Traylor near Benton, in Lowndes County, Alabama. After emancipation, his family continued to farm on the plantation until the 1930s. In 1939, at age eighty-five, he moved to Montgomery, where he slept in the back room of a funeral home and in a shoemaker's shop. During the day, he sat on the sidewalk and drew images of the people he saw on the street and remembered scenes from life on the farm, hanging his works on the fence behind him. That year, he met Charles Shannon, a painter, who, with his friends from the New South, brought Traylor art supplies and bought his drawings for nominal sums.