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March 7, 2020

‘Black Venus’: Fascinating Photos of Josephine Baker in the 1920s and 1930s

Josephine Baker (born Freda Josephine McDonald) was remarkable in many of her own ways: as a dancer, she was among the most renowned performers to headline the revues of the Folies Bergère in Paris; as an actress, she was the first African-American to star in a major motion picture. Baker’s costume, including a short skirt of artificial bananas and a beaded necklace, became a symbol of the Jazz Age. She was greatly admired by many artists and intellectuals of the era, with Ernest Hemingway calling her “the most sensational woman anyone ever saw,” while Pablo Picasso drawing paintings depicting her alluring beauty. In 1937, after her third marriage, she renounced her U.S. citizenship and became a French national.

Here are 27 beautiful vintage photographs capture the icon in the 1920s and 1930s:

Josephine Baker in La Coupole restaurant, circa 1920. Photo by Keystone-France.

Josephine Baker has harnessed an ostrich to pull a racing sulky, circa 1920. Photo by General Photographic Agency.

Jospehine Baker lounging on a tiger skin, posing in a studio around the time of her first sensation La REVUE NEGRE, circa 1925. Photo by Keystone-France.

Josephine Baker wearing a satin outfit with fur trim, Hamburg, 1925. Photo by Estate of Emil Bieber/Klaus Niermann.

A studio portrait of Josephine Baker in top hat, white tie and tails in Paris, circa 1925. Photo by Paul Popper/Popperfoto.
A vintage postcard featuring American-born French entertainer Josephine Baker at the Casino de Paris, circa 1926. Photo by Popperfoto.

Josephine Baker, circa 1926. Photo by Gaston Paris/Roger Viollet.

Posed studio full length portrait of Josephine Baker, circa 1926. Photo by Gilles Petard/Redferns.

Side profile of a kneeling nude Josephine Baker, Paris, France, circa 1928. Photo by Underwood Archives.

Josephine Baker poses with a model of an elephant, circa 1928. Photo by Hulton Archive.

Josephine Baker, circa 1928. Photo by Keystone-France.

Josephine Baker sits with her pet cheetah, Chiquita, early 1930s. Photo by Trascendental Graphics.

Josephine Baker wearing her flounced dress, 1930s. Photo by Keystone-France.

Josephine Baker, circa 1930. Photo by Popperfoto.

Josephine Baker in the Revue 'The Captive Queen' in the Folies Bergere, Paris, 1931. Photo by ullstein bild.

Josephine Baker holding a large feathered cape while looking over her shoulder, smiling and wearing a sparkling costume, 1931. Photo by George Hoyningen-Huene/Vanity Fair/Condé Nast.

Josephine Baker; wearing a costume with a large feather boafan for her Casino de Paris performance, 1931. Photo by George Hoyningen-Huene/Vanity Fair/Condé Nast.

Josephine Baker in the garden of her Villa Beau Chene in Le Vesinet, France, 1931. Photo by Keystone-France.

Josephine Baker, on vacation on Lake Como in Italy, paid attention to her figure, August 1933. Photo by Keystone-France.

Josephine Baker, standing nude, with a long piece of fabric draped in front of her hanging from long stands of pearls which are wrapped around her hands, 1934. Photo by George Hoyningen-Huene/Vanity Fair/Condé Nast.

Josephine Baker during a 'concours d'elegance' in Europe, 1935. Photo by Roger Viollet.

Josephine Baker performing on stage, circa 1935. Photo by Silver Screen Collection.

Josephine Baker at Saint-Lazare station on her return from America, Paris, June 1936. Photo by Martinie/Roger Viollet.

Josephine Baker helping elderly people, France, 1936. Photo by Keystone-France.

Josephine Baker sings in the microphone before an amused and enchanted public during the Caf' Conc' Festival at Buffalo Stadium in Paris, 1936. Photo by Keystone-France.

Josephine Baker distributes toys to sick children in Paris hospitals, December 1936. Photo by Imagno.

Josephine Baker performs at the Casino of Paris, December 1939. Photo by Roger Viollet.


4 comments:

  1. In some of the clothes there was so much material, she could just as well stand behind it and look like she has it on.

    ReplyDelete
  2. what a life. what a star. what a woman.

    ReplyDelete

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