Paris 1824 – 1888
Gorean Signares at their Bath
G. Boulanger’s studio stamp at lower right (Lugt 5633). Inscribed Egrigny petite fille du mquis de Boufflers on the mounting sheet.
269 x 185 mm – 10 9/16 x 7 5/16 in.
This drawing is a preparatory study for one of the two illustrations relating to the Signares of Senegal and Gorée, published in Le Tour du Monde nouveau journal des voyages de 1860 (1861, p. 24) by Gustave Boulanger after the composition of Edouard Auguste Nousveaux. The term signare was used for a matriarchal mixed-race minority, women who lived with Europeans settling in trading posts or who were born from such relationships and through which they acquired a higher social status and standard of living. The inscription that designates the Marquis de Boufflers is very interesting because it alludes to a rumoured affair he had with the famous signare Anne Pépin – who was reputed to be a shrewd entrepreneur – while he was the French governor of Senegal, from 1785 to 1787. There is nothing that can certainly prove this rumour which was based on later testimonies of visitors to Senegal who had heard the story from Anne Pépin herself (for instance Eugène Plée dans Amédée Gréhan, La France maritime, 1837, p. 383). The signare could have easily invented it but the inscription on this drawing can be regarded as an additional element in this discussion.
Condition report – Good condition, small stains