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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Artists' depiction of Senegalese signares: insights concerning French racist and sexist attitudes in the nineteenth century
Author:Brooks, George E.ISNI
Periodical:Genève-Afrique: acta africana
Geographic term:Senegal
middle class
Abstract:Senegalese signares were renowned during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries for their beauty, elegant dress, and enviable life-style. Signare, derived from the Portuguese senhora, designated a respected woman of property, and the most affluent signares of Saint-Louis and Gorée possessed large houses, numerous domestic slaves, and considerable wealth invested in clothing, jewelry, and house furnishings. This paper describes how signares were depicted by French artists and writers who visited Senegal from the close of the eighteenth century to the latter part of the nineteenth century. This was a period of transition during which signares' economic and social position drastically declined; signares changed from entrepreneurs with considerable wealth and independence to women living in reduced economic circumstances and largely dependent on attachments to European men. The five pictures accompanying the text, together with quotations from visitors to Senegal, illustrate how French attitudes towards signares changed during this period. Bibliogr., notes, ill.