The J. Paul Getty Museum

[Portrait of Josephine Baker]

Object Details


[Portrait of Josephine Baker]


Baron Adolf de Meyer (American, born France, 1868 - 1946)




New York, New York, United States (Place Created)





Object Number:



39.1 × 39.7 cm (15 3/8 × 15 5/8 in.)


Status undetermined

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Object Description

In 1925 Josephine Baker, an American dancer from Saint Louis, Missouri, made her debut on the Paris stage in La Revue nègre (The Black Review) at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, wearing nothing more than a skirt of feathers and performing her danse sauvage (savage dance). She was an immediate sensation in Jazz-Age France, which celebrated her perceived exoticism, quite the opposite of the reception she had received dancing in American choruses. American expatriate novelist Ernest Hemingway called Baker "the most sensational woman anybody ever saw--or ever will."

Baron Adolf de Meyer, a society and fashion photographer, took this playful portrait in the year of Baker's debut. Given the highly sexual nature of her stage persona, this portrait is charming and almost innocent; Baker's personality is suggested by her face rather than her famous body.

- 1984

Samuel Wagstaff, Jr., American, 1921 - 1987, sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1984.

Photographs from the Sam Wagstaff Collection (November 15, 1985 to January 11, 1986)
  • The Photographers' Gallery (London), November 15, 1985 to January 11, 1986
The Art of Photography: 1839 - 1989 (February 11 to December 23, 1989)
  • Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, February 11 to April 30, 1989
  • National Gallery of Australia (Canberra), June 1 to August 1, 1989
  • Royal Academy of Arts (London), September 23 to December 23, 1989
Fame and Photography (March 9 to May 23, 1993)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), March 9 to May 23, 1993
De Meyer (December 10, 1994 to February 12, 1995)
  • International Center of Photography (Jersey City), December 10, 1994 to February 12, 1995
Josephine Baker: Image and Icon (April 22 to August 26, 2006)
  • Sheldon Art Galleries (Saint Louis), April 22 to August 26, 2006
Portraits of Renown: Photography and the Cult of Celebrity (April 3 to September 2, 2012)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), April 3 to September 2, 2012
The Thrill of the Chase: The Wagstaff Collection of Photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum (March 15, 2016 to May 7, 2017)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), March 15 to July 31, 2016
  • Wadsworth Atheneum (Hartford), September 10 to December 11, 2016
  • Portland Museum of Art (Portland), February 13 to May 7, 2017

Sotheby's (Firm). The Collection of Baron de Meyer (New York, 1980), lot #116.

Masterpieces of the J. Paul Getty Museum: Photographs (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1999), p. 75.

Martineau, Paul. The Thrill of the Chase: the Wagstaff collection of photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2016), p. 157, pl. 99.