The text presents the unique friendship between Ira Aldridge (1807–1867), the first Africa–American tragedian and Taras Shevchenko (1814–1861), Ukrainian artist, poet and painter. They met for a short time in 1858, when Aldridge came to St Petersburg to play Shakespeare with a German troupe. Since their lives’ experiences were similar – Aldridge suffered from racial discrimination, while Shevchenko was born as a serf – their friendship was instantaneous. Shevchenko appreciated Aldridge’s theatrical skills and Aldridge highly valued Shevchenko’s art. Aldridge’s portrait painted by Shevchenko is a memento of their meetings and friendship and is exhibited in the Moscow Tretiakov Gallery.