Alfred Kappes was one of the nineteenth century’s most engaging genre painters, who devoted his career to representing African-American communities. His work was unique for its refusal to sentimentalize the subject; Kappes portrayed people with an unblinking frankness and sincere interest. Based in New York, he was named a member of the National Academy of Design and exhibited at the Brooklyn Art Association, the Boston Art Club, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Chicago 1893 Columbian Exhibition. Kappes also gained success as an illustrator: his drawings of the homes and tombs of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison were published in Harper’s Weekly. Today, his work is in prominent museums including the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and the Smith College Museum of Art.