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Dans un Café à Paris (Leigh Whipper)

Loïs Mailou Jones

American Art

Here, Lois Mailou Jones painted Leah Whipper at the height of his career as a Broadway and Hollywood actor. Whipper would soon become famous for his role as Crooks in the 1939 film adaptation of John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men. His character—a stable hand ostracized because of his race—served to illuminate the movie’s Depression-era message that the American Dream’s promise of economic and social success was impossible.

The artist’s portrayal of a pensive Whipper answered Alain LeRoy Locke’s call for Black artists to create ennobling representations of African Americans. Locke was an intellectual during the Harlem Renaissance, a movement of the 1920s and ’30s that resulted in a blossoming of African American culture.
MEDIUM Oil on canvas
DATES 1939
DIMENSIONS 36 x 29 in. (91.4 x 73.7 cm) frame: 42 x 37 x 2 5/8 in. (106.7 x 94 x 6.7 cm)  (show scale)
CREDIT LINE Brooklyn Museum Fund for African American Art and gift of Auldlyn Higgins Williams and E.T. Williams, Jr.
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CAPTION Loïs Mailou Jones (American, 1905–1998). Dans un Café à Paris (Leigh Whipper), 1939. Oil on canvas, 36 x 29 in. (91.4 x 73.7 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Museum Fund for African American Art and gift of Auldlyn Higgins Williams and E.T. Williams, Jr., 2012.1. © artist or artist's estate (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 2012.1_edited_version_PS6.jpg)
IMAGE overall, 2012.1_edited_version_PS6.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2016
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RIGHTS STATEMENT © Estate of Loïs Mailou Jones, Loïs Mailou Jones Pierre-Noel Trust
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