From 1949 to 1977 Keita was the most popular portrait photographer in his native Bamako, Mali, producing thousands of commissioned portraits of politicians, government workers, shop owners, and ordinary citizens that comprise an outstanding visual record of a modern society. In this contemplative portrait, Keita emphasizes the syncopated clash of patterns and rhythms-the swirling arabesques of the backdrop, the floral print of the woman's traditional boubou, and the bold black and white checks of the blanket. His subject presents herself with a langorous dignity that is enhanced by significant details of her pose and costume: her forehead bears marks of tribal scarification, she wears her headwrap à la de Gaulle (in imitation of the jaunty angle at which the General wore his military kepi), and she displays her long slender fingers, considered a sign of high social standing.
Inscription: Signed and dated in ink recto beneath image BL, BR: "Seydou Keita 56 [illegible] 57 // [illegible", "1995"; inscribed in pencil in unknown hand on verso BC: "854. [underlined]"