Gelatin silver print
Image: 24.1 x 19.2 cm (9 1/2 x 7 9/16 in.); Matted: 50.8 x 40.6 cm (20 x 16 in.)
Alma Kroeger Fund 2001.7
© The Estate of Edward Steichen / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Celebrity actors, made famous in part through their promotion in magazine articles, helped draw crowds to plays and films in Times Square. Paul Robeson, the world-renowned singer, actor, and political activist, is seen here as Emperor Jones, a role he played first in 1924 in the revival of Eugene O’Neill’s play The Emperor Jones and then nine years later, at the time of this portrait, in its film adaptation. Edward Steichen, chief photographer for Condé Nast Publications, which included Vanity Fair, used dramatic lighting and simple props in this studio portrait to evoke the thrill of attending one of Robeson’s powerful performances.
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