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The Hot Mikado

The Hot Mikado
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Al Hirschfeld, 21 Jun 1903 - 21 Jan 2003
Luther "Bill Bojangles" Robinson, 26 May 1878 - 25 Nov 1949
Nat Karson, c. 1908 - 1954
Hassard Short, 1877 - 1956
Ink on illustration board
Image: 20.4 X 40.8 cm (8 1/16 X 16 1/16 in.)
Board: 32.7 X 54.1 cm (12 7/8 X 21 3/8 in.)
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Restrictions & Rights
© Al Hirschfeld. Art reproduced by special arrangement with Hirschfeld's exclusive representative, the Margo Feiden Galleries, Ltd., New York.
Object number
Exhibition Label
At the height of his fame, Bill ("Bojangles") Robinson was considered the greatest tap dancer in the world. With his smooth dancing style and ebullient vitality, Robinson worked his way up to the national vaudeville circuit, the Broadway stage, radio, and major studio films, breaching racial barriers all along the way. In 1939, he opened in The Hot Mikado, a swing version of the operetta. The "agile Bill Robinson turns on the heat," the New York Herald Tribune proclaimed in its review. In Al Hirschfeld's accompanying illustration, the white arcs of the seats beneath the dancer's tapping feet add a percussive rhythm. Other elements of the picture seem cinematic, suggesting a lighted screen, close-ups, and long shots. In this virtuoso drawing, Hirschfeld employs squiggles, loops, arcs, thin threads of ink, and white and black stripes for different effects.
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
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National Portrait Gallery Collection
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