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A portrait of Richard Prior sitting on a doorstep



Nestled in the heart of the Peoria Riverfront Museum's contemporary collection rests an evocative oil painting that captures the essence of one of comedy's most luminary figures, Richard Pryor. Titled "Invictus" after the empowering poem by William Ernest Henley, this portrait is the creation of artist Jonathon Romain.


The canvas portrays Pryor in a moment of introspection, seated on the steps of a porch that mirrors the ambiance of his grandmother's home, which doubled as a brothel during his formative years. This setting, symbolically charged and deeply personal, serves as a backdrop to the narrative of Pryor's tumultuous journey from pain to prominence.


Through Romain's masterful strokes, Pryor is depicted not merely in physical form but as a vessel of his own complex narrative—bearing a contemplative expression that seems to traverse the chasm between his past and present. His hands, detailed with the wear of time and tribulation, rest on his knees, symbolizing the myriad experiences that shaped his exceptional path.


The artwork's significance is twofold, merging Pryor’s legacy with that of its creator. Much like the subject he so vividly brings to life, Romain too has navigated a life marred by adversity. Emerging from a background riddled with poverty and violence, Romain found himself serving a fifteen-year sentence—a period during which he channeled his struggles into the development of a profound artistic talent.


"Invictus" is more than a portrait; it is a dialogue between two men who transformed their tribulations into triumphs, connecting their narratives through the universal language of art. The painting does not shy away from the darkness that enveloped Pryor's early life but chooses instead to confront it directly, illuminating the resilience and indomitable spirit that Pryor and Romain share.


The piece invites viewers to reflect on the power of redemption and the art of transformation, embodying Henley's timeless words: "I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul." In the gaze of Pryor, audiences are reminded of the capacity of the human spirit to rise above adversity, making "Invictus" a compelling tribute to the legacy of Richard Pryor and a testament to the redemptive power of art.

  • Additional Information

    34" x 42" 

    Limited Edition of 75 Giclees 


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