Aug 17, 2023 - Sale 2644

Sale 2644 - Lot 15

Price Realized: $ 6,250
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 1,000 - $ 1,500

GLADYS BENTLEY (1907-1960)

Signed portrait of the cross-dressing Harlem Renaissance performer Gladys Bentley.
Photograph, 250x200 mm; 10x8 inches, signed by the photographer Canell in the negative; minimal wear; signed and inscribed "To a swell fellow and a friend, Gladys Bentley." New York, circa late 1920s.

Gladys Bentley (1907-1960) was raised in Philadelphia and was gender non-conforming from an early age, preferring to wear her brothers' clothing. As a Black cross-dressing and openly lesbian blues singer and pianist, she was a memorable character of the Harlem Renaissance, often performing in top hat and tails backed by a chorus line of drag queens at the Clam House, Ubangi Club, and Cotton Club.