In 1912, James Oppenheim commemorated the struggle of striking textile workers in Lawrence, Massachusetts with a poem inspired by a banner carried by young women mill hands. The banner read, "We want bread and roses, too," affirming the biblical adage, "Man does not live by bread alone." Set to music by Mimi Farina and recorded by Judy Collins, the poem found new meaning in the 70s. The theme was adopted by New York's District 1199 of the National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees for an unprecedented two-year project celebrating the arts and humanities that remains an annual event. With more than 70% of the district membership's being black or Hispanic, and almost 85% women, Davis chose an unidentified beautiful young black woman as his model. His painting of her, garlanded with wheat stalks and roses, became an icon of the period.
Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881) was an English statesman and novelist whose writing and speeches were marked equally by sharp wit, individual style and conservative convictions. As played by Ian McShane in the Masterpiece Theater series and captured here in an inimitable Davis portrait, you can almost hear him sounding forth on his trust of democratic Toryism, his belief in social reform and his pride in empire and crown.
Between 1975 and 1991, Davis created 51 posters for the New York Public Theater, the organization responsible for the free summer performances of Shakespeare in Central Park's open-air Delacorte Theater. One of the two plays offered during the 20th anniversary season was Henry V. Davis captures the countenance of Paul Rudd as the troubled young monarch.
Printed in 1982, it promotes the PBS Masterpiece Theatre production I Remember Nelson. This Davis portrait of Kenneth Coltey playing Admiral Horatio Nelson emphasizes the heroic side of the man who was both a naval genius and a notorious figure of scandal.