Richard Potter

Acrylic and Gold Leaf on Wood Panel



Created by Mark Steven Greenfield as a part of his series, "Hey-Lo".

Balthazar, 2021, Acrylic and Gold Leaf on Wood Panel, 20 X 16, (L).jpg

Potter was a magician, hypnotist, and ventriloquist in early-19th-century New England and is widely considered the first African American celebrity. As a performer he obscured most of his early life and encouraged speculation, but it is recorded that he was born in Massachusetts as the child of an enslaved Black woman named Dinah and one of the men living in the household (there is no concrete record of who his father is). Richard Potter became a well-known magician in the New England area from 1811 to his death in 1834. He performed up and down the East Coast, going as far south as Alabama, where he was turned away from a hotel because of his race. In 1814 Potter purchased about 175 acres in the village of Andover, New Hampshire. To this day, this area is called "Potter Place." He married a Penobscot Native American woman named Sally and had three children. His son Henry (also called "Harry" Potter) died at the age of 7.