My name is John G. Chaplin. I was born on November 30, 1828 and died on January 5, 1907.
From the time I was a young boy, I knew that when I grew up I would be a barber. That's what my father was and it was one of the few businesses available for men of color.
When I was born in 1828 in Huntingdon, my family was already well established in the area. Maybe I started my art career with doodles in the classroom or maybe I began sketching the landscapes around my home and my father's business, "The Temple of Fashion," on Allegheny Street. I don't remember.
I told people that I studied with Robert Douglass Jr., a renowned African American artist in Philadelphia, and that I studied in Dusseldorf, Germany. As I was a known teller of tall tales, these were widely disbelieved, but many experts who have examined my works agree that I had some formal fine arts training.
People may have joked and called me "The Professor" or "John DeChapelini," but that didn't stop them from calling me to paint their portraits or buying my works.
I took over the Temple of Fashion and worked as an artist at the same time until I decided to move to Ohio to live near my brother, Levi. In Ohio, I took an interest in politics and started working with what is now the NAACP, even while I kept on barbering and painting.
In death, I returned home to rest among my family members and the town in which some of my paintings are still displayed.