Album of Gems, Introduced by Williams and Walker and Their Own Big Company

image for Album of Gems, Introduced by Williams and Walker and Their Own Big Company
Title
Bert Williams and George Walker
Exhibition Label
This sheet music cover features portraits of renowned vaudeville performers George Walker (lower left) and Bert Williams (upper right) and scenes of, among other things, the actors teaching their famous “cake walk” to William Vanderbilt. The Policy Players was their 1899 production that garnered glowing reviews and stories of audiences laughing in “uproars.”
Walker and Williams reclaimed material from white minstrelsy performers who “blacked up” to racially derogate African Americans. Walker was the straight man and petty tyrant of the hapless and put-upon Williams. The gaiety of this cover featuring flowers, ribbons, and levity, however, belies the darkly racist and contradictory conditions the entertainers endured as pioneers in professionalizing black theater—as “blacks in blackface.” W.C. Fields, another vaudeville actor, once commented, Williams was “the funniest man I ever saw—and the saddest man I ever knew.”
En esta portada de unas partituras musicales figuran retratos de los celebrados artistas de vodevil George Walker (abajo a la izquierda) y Bert Williams (arriba a la derecha) y, entre otras, escenas de los actores enseñándole su famoso baile “cake walk” a William Vanderbilt. Su producción de 1899, The Policy Players, recibió críticas muy elogiosas y mantuvo al público riéndose a carcajadas.
Walker y Williams reutilizaban material de artistas ambulantes blancos (minstrels) que se presentaban pintados de negro mofándose de los afroamericanos. Walker era el hombre serio del acto, que tiranizaba al infeliz y explotado Williams. El tono alegre de esta portada con flores, cintas y humor contrasta con las condiciones racistas y contradictorias que estos artistas sufrieron como pioneros del teatro negro profesional —como “negros pintados de negro”—. W.C. Fields, otro actor de vodevil, comentó que Williams era “el artista más cómico que he visto, y el hombre más triste que he conocido”.
Topic
Costume\Dress Accessory\Tie
Indeterminable
Bert Williams: Male
Bert Williams: Performing Arts\Performer\Actor
Bert Williams: Performing Arts\Performer\Comedian
Bert Williams: Performing Arts\Performer\Comedian
Bert Williams: Performing Arts\Performer\Vaudeville
George Walker: Male
George Walker: Performing Arts\Performer\Actor
George Walker: Performing Arts\Performer\Comedian
George Walker: Performing Arts\Performer\Vaudeville
Portrait
National Portrait Gallery
Artist
Unidentified Artist
Publisher
Hurtig & Seamon
Sitter
George Walker, 1873 - 8 Jan 1911
Bert Williams, 12 Nov 1874 - 4 Mar 1922
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Medium
Chromolithograph on paper
Dimensions
Sheet: 35 × 26.4cm (13 3/4 × 10 3/8")
Mat: 55.9 × 40.6 cm (22 × 16")
See more items in
National Portrait Gallery Collection
Exhibition
Recent Acquisitions 2018
On View
NPG, North Gallery 140
1899
Type
Print
Object number
NPG.2016.118
Culture
George Walker: American\African American