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Soldado Senegales

1935 James A. Porter Born: Baltimore, Maryland 1905 Died: Washington, District of Columbia 1970 oil on canvas 18 1/4 x 14 1/8 in. (46.3 x 35.8 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Museum purchase made possible by Anacostia Museum, Smithsonian Institution 1987.56.2 Not currently on view


Exhibition Label

Porter painted Soldado Senegales, a portrait of expatriate Senegalese dancer Feral Benga, in 1935 while in France on sabbatical leave from Howard University. Rather than picture the West African in one of his flamboyant dance moves, Porter posed him in the khaki uniform and fez of a French colonial soldier. It is a distinctly modernist painting and a subtle comment on European colonial occupation in Africa during the early years of the twentieth century. The striated red background and thin black lines that outline Benga’s shoulders emphasize the shallowness of the pictorial space. The touches of green that highlight the sitter’s forehead recall the canvases of Henri Matisse.


African American Art: Harlem Renaissance, Civil Rights Era, and Beyond, 2012

Keywords

Ethnic - African-American

Occupation - military

Portrait male - unidentified - bust

painting

paint - oil

fabric - canvas

About James A. Porter

Born: Baltimore, Maryland 1905 Died: Washington, District of Columbia 1970

More works in the collection by
James A. Porter