Request for Painting Commissioning

Project 1619 Inc. is accepting proposals for the commissioning of a painting to represent the arrival of the first landing of Africans in English North America in 1619 in Virginia at Point Comfort, today’s Fort Monroe National Monument in Hampton, VA.  

About Fort Monroe National Monument 

For over 400 years, the point of land known as Old Point Comfort that now includes Fort Monroe has served as the key defensive site at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. Beginning with Native American’s use years before the settling of Jamestown to its most recent mission as the US Army’s Headquarters for Training and Doctrine Command until 2011, Old Point Comfort and Fort Monroe has influenced all aspects of our nation’s history.

The eventual founders of Jamestown first landed on and named Point Comfort. On April 29, 1607, George Percy found the water and land to put them in good comfort so he named the land Cape Comfort.” The following year while trading with the Kecoughtan Indians, Captain John Smith started mapping the region and named the land originally Poynt Comfort.

In the latter part of August 1619 an English ship flying a Dutch flag, the White Lion, arrived at Point Comfort. Its cargo was “Twenty and Odd Africans”, captured from a slave ship in the Gulf of Mexico. These Africans had been captured from the Ndongo village in Angola, Africa and were being transported to Vera Cruz, Mexico to be sold as slaves when their ship was attacked by privateers looking for gold or silver. The arrival of the Africans at Point Comfort marked the first landing of Africans on English occupied territory in North America. The arrival of the first Africans is a defining event that changed the social, political and economic fabric of America forever. President Barack Obama declared Fort Monroe a National Monument in November 2011 as he confirmed it as the landing site of the first Africans.

Fort Monroe is not only the landing site of the first Africans, but it is where slavery began to end.   In February 1861, three slaves, Frank Baker, James Townsend and Shepard Mallory, were leased by their masters to the Confederate Army to help construct defense batteries at Sewell's Point in Norfolk, across the mouth of Hampton Roads from the Union-held Fort Monroe. On February 23rd they escaped at night and rowed a skiff to Old Point Comfort, where they sought asylum at Fort Monroe. These three men emancipated themselves and it became a turning point in the Civil War.

At Fort Monroe, Major General Benjamin Butler, commander, learned that three slaves had made their way across Hampton Roads harbor from Confederate-occupied Norfolk, and presented themselves at Union-held Fort Monroe. General Butler refused to return the escaped slaves to slaveholders who supported the Confederacy. This amounted to classifying them as "contraband of war”. This action led to thousands of enslaved Africans escaping to Union lines seeking freedom. The Union saw this as an opportunity to allow escaping slaves to join the military to fight to protect and preserve their freedom. Escaping slaves diminished the free labor in the South and many joined the Union Army to fight the Confederates to preserve their freedom. Their honorable service helped preserve the Union and forced President Abraham Lincoln to sign the Emancipation Proclamation.  


Project 1619 Inc. seeks and artist(s) to commission a painting that represents the arrival of the first Africans in English North America at Point Comfort. The painting shall be used as the official commemorative painting used by Project 1619 Inc. to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first Africans. The final artwork should be inspiring, stimulate thought and conversation and serve as an example of creativity. It should be captivating, lively

and unifying. The history of the first Africans cab be interpreted in many ways. The painting could depict the capture from Mother Land Africa; sighting of the slave ships offshore from Africa; slave ships arriving in English North America; Africans being unloaded; the social conditions of slavery; Freedom; or the movement from slavery to freedom.   

Project 1619 Inc. shall own the commissioned painting, the copyright, and have all reproduction rights.

Artist are requested to submit a Black & White draft of their concept. Suggested size is 8 ½”  x 11 ½”. Larger sizes will be accepted. The painting is considered a draft and is not required to have fine details. The intent is only to give the review committee an idea of your concept. The artist will not be compensated for submitting a draft and shall retain ownership and copyrights. 


The reproduction size of the painting shall be 24” x 36”. The preference is color. All medium styles and products will be considered; acrylics, watercolor, etc. The painting shall be on canvas.


Project 1619 Inc. will convene a panel of historians, and artist from a variety of studios, museums, social outlets, and representatives from the print and digital media. They will review all submissions and select three (3) finalists. The finalist will then have an opportunity to submit a compensation package to produce an original painting. The final selection will be based on composition and compensation request. The Selection Committee reserves the right to reject all proposals and to select more than one painting.    

 The following criteria will be used in the proposal evaluation process:

• Artistic merit (excellence, originality, creativity and innovative approaches) as

evidenced by submitted materials

• Professional artistic experience to fulfill the requirements of this project.  

Once the artist(s) are selected and a contract is approved, the artist shall produce an original painting. The size shall be 24” x 36” unless otherwise agreed upon.      


The deadline to submit a proposal is August 31, 2015.


Six (3) copies of each proposal must be submitted.

The original proposal must be clearly marked.

1. A letter of interest, not to exceed one page, explaining why you are interested

in this project and how you will approach the artwork design and creation.

2. Up to 6 images of prior work, submitted as digital images (1 copy) to the

following specifications.

DIGITAL IMAGES: Images should be sent on a PC-compatible CD-ROM

in JPG format. Each file should be named with vendor surname and

image number to correspond with annotated image list. Maximum image

size is 3000 by 2400 pixels.

3. A current resume not exceeding two pages


5. OPTIONAL: The artist has the option to submit additional materials such as catalogs, press articles, etc.

QUESTIONS/FOLLOW UP: Questions about this project may be directed to

Mr. Calvin Pearson


Submission Form

I. Contact Information

Name ___________________________________________

Address _________________________________________

City ___________________ State ______ Zip ___________

Home Phone: ____________________________________

Cell Phone: ______________________________________

Email Address: ___________________________________

Website: ________________________________________

I agree to the conditions of the proposal and understand that I will not be compensated for the submitted draft. I will retain ownership and copyright of the draft the submission. I understand that the final selection will be based on composition and compensation and the decision of the selection committee is final.

______________________________________     _______________

    Signature                                                                    Date

Submit complete package to:

Painting Commission

Project 1619 Inc.

PO Box 1233

Hampton, VA 23661