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James A. Porter

Soldado Senegales
1935
oil
18 1/4 x 14 1/8 in.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, purchase made possible by Anacostia Museum, Smithsonian Institution

Reportedly, this bust-length portrait depicts François Benga, the celebrated Senegalese dancer who starred at the Folies Bergère in Paris, using the stage name “Feral Benga.” The performer also modeled for artists. Rather than picturing the West African in one of his flamboyant dance moves, Porter portrays him as a military figure wearing the khaki-colored uniform and fez of the French colonial troops.