Due to rising regional and national cases related to the COVID-19 pandemic, all Smithsonian museums, including the National Zoo, will temporarily close to the public starting Monday, Nov. 23. We are not announcing a reopening date at this time.
Napoleon Sarony, 9 Mar 1821 - 9 Nov 1896
Sissieretta Jones, 5 Jan 1868 - 24 Jun 1933
Albumen silver print
Image/Sheet: 14 x 9.7 cm (5 1/2 x 3 13/16")
Mount: 16.6 x 10.9 cm (6 9/16 x 4 5/16")
Mat: 45.7 x 35.6 cm (18 x 14")
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Restrictions & Rights
Born Portsmouth, Virginia
With a voice said to rival that of Italian diva Adelina Patti, soprano Sissieretta Jones became an inter- national star whose repertoire ranged from grand opera arias to popular ballads. A classically trained singer, Jones made her New York City debut at Steinway Hall in April 1888. After an admiring critic dubbed her “the Black Patti,” she was promoted as such for the remainder of her career. Touring extensively from 1888 until 1896, Jones delighted audiences at home and abroad with solo recitals as well as performances with a variety of musical ensembles.
Although her venues included opera houses and concert halls, racial barriers prevented Jones from performing in mainstream opera. In 1896, she took her career in a new direction by forming Black Patti’s Troubadours, a touring troupe of African American entertainers whose vaudevillian offerings were paired with “operatic kaleidoscopes” showcasing Jones’s extraordinary vocal gifts.