People of Color in European Art History


  1. Jan Brueghel the Elder

    The Battle of Issus

    Netherlands (1602)

    Musée de Louvre, Paris

    [x] [x] [x] [x]

  2. skemono submitted to medievalpoc:

    Given this recent submission, I thought I’d submit this today.

    Matthew Restall wrote, “Wherever Spaniards set foot in the Americas as members of conquest companies they were accompanied by black conquistadors.” One such person was Juan Garrido, about whose life we know a fair amount, though many details remain sketchy. Also, some historians have provided postulations to fill in the gaps, and other people have run with those as fact, so some of the below may not be accurate, but I’ll try my best.

    Most people seem to be agreed that he was probably born somewhere in West Africa around 1480 (some sites give the date of birth as exactly 1487, though I don’t know how reliable that is). At some point in his youth, he came to Lisbon, where he adopted Christianity, and later moved to Castile and lived there for seven years. Some people suggest that he was brought to Portugal as a slave, though this is probably in part at least due to a desire to assume that all black people who came to Europe were slaves—I believe there is no real evidence that he was one. (There are records of a Portuguese slave named João Garrido being freed by João II, the future king, in 1477, but this is probably too old to be the Garrido in question.)

    Some have also noted that he shared the surname of the Spanish conquistador Pedro Garrido, and extrapolated from this that he may have been Pedro’s slave or servant, and adopted the family name. I think this was first proposed by Peter Gerhard, who admitted “this is pure conjecture”, but other people seem to accept it as fact. However, Gerhard writes that Pedro Garrido landed in Santo Domingo in 1510. Juan Garrido, meanwhile, wrote in a 1538 petition that he had been serving the Spanish king for thirty years, and listed among his feats “I went to discover and pacify the islands of San Juan de Buriquén de Puerto Rico; and also as I went on the pacification and conquest of the island of Cuba with the adelantado Diego Velázquez.” This would place him in Puerto Rico with Ponce de León in 1508, and then in Cuba with Diego Velázquez in 1511. So, I don’t think he was serving a Spanish family in-between that, but there may be other information out there I don’t have access to.

    (As a completely irrelevant aside, “garrido” means “good-looking” in Spanish, so you could Anglicize his name as “Handsome John” if you were so inclined, which I am.)

    Many people also write that Garrido accompanied Ponce de León to Florida in 1513, which I’m tentatively accepting, though I haven’t been able to find someone citing a primary source for that. We do know that he was with Hernán Cortés when they destroyed Tenochtitlán (Pedro Garrido was also with Cortés then, fueling further speculation that Juan was his servant). He lived in Mexico City for some years after that. During that time, he was apparently the first person to plant and grow wheat in the western hemisphere. The conquistador Andrés de Tapia wrote “after Mexico was taken, and while [Cortés] was in Coyoacán, they brought him a small amount of rice, and in it were three grains of wheat; he ordered a free Negro to plant them.” Garrido himself said he “was the first to plant and harvest wheat”, though in his petition he said that he had the inspiration to do so, not that he was ordered by Cortés. Whichever the case, he was certainly successful, and Cortés ordered that wheat be planted in all the villages.

    Garrido continued to do other things. For a while he had several duties in Mexico City; he took a group of slaves to mine for gold in Zacatula; he was part of Cortés’s expedition to Baja California in 1533, with a retinue of slaves for mining. He did not have much success mining for gold, leading to his 1538 probanza, a proof of merit for his petition to the king to receive a pension:

    I, Juan Garrido, black resident [de color negro vecino] of this city [Mexico], appear before Your Mercy and state that I am in need of making aprobanza to the perpetuity of the king [a perpetuad rey], a report on how I served Your Majesty in the conquest and pacification of this New Spain, from the time when the Marqués del Valle [Cortés] entered it; and in his company I was present at all the invasions and conquests and pacifications which were carried out, always with the said Marqués, all of which I did at my own expense without being given either salary or allotment of natives [repartimiento de indios] or anything else. As I am married and a resident of this city, where I have always lived; and also as I went with the Marqués del Valle to discover the islands which are in that part of the southern sea [the Pacific] where there was much hunger and privation; and also as I went to discover and pacify the islands of San Juan de Buriquén de Puerto Rico; and also as I went on the pacification and conquest of the island of Cuba with the adelantado Diego Velázquez; in all these ways for thirty years have I served and continue to serve Your Majesty—for these reasons stated above do I petition Your Mercy. And also because I was the first to have the inspiration to sow maize [wheat] here in New Spain and to see if it took; I did this and experimented at my own expense.

    We have little other information on him. He probably died in Mexico City around 1547.

    I write this not because it is great that people of African descent could also enslave and murder Native Americans, but because it shows one of the avenues open to black Spaniards of the time. There were many other black conquistadors (though a lot of them were slaves): Sebastián Toral, Juan Valiente, Juan Beltrán, etc. The images above are often credited as being depictions of Juan Garrido, but that’s mostly because people treat Garrido as the only black person with Cortés, which was not the case.

    Images:

    Fray Diego Durán, História de las Indias de Nueva España e Islas de la Tierra Firme, 1581. Illustrations on pages 413, 416.

    Further reading:

    Peter Gerhard, “A Black Conquistador in Mexico”, The Hispanic American Historical Review, vol. 58, no. 3 (Aug., 1978), pp. 451-459

    Matthew Restall, “Black Conquistadors: Armed Africans in Early Spanish America”, The Americas, vol. 57, no. 2 (Oct., 2000), pp. 171-205

    Ricardo E. Alegría, Juan Garrido, el Conquistador Negro en las Antillas, Florida, México y California, c. 1503-1540. Centro de Estudios Avanzados de Puerto Rico y El Caribe, 1990.

    [X] [X] [X] [X] [X] [X] [X] [X]

    An excellent and fascinating submission as always! Thank you for sharing your research.

  3. tooanxiousforrivers submitted to medievalpoc:

    Claude Lorrain

    Battle on a Bridge

    Rome, 1655

    Oil on canvas

    Seen at the Virginia Museum of Fine Art

    From the accompanying description:

    Here, a battle before an ancient seaport disrupts the simple life of shepherds in the countryside. The battle is possibly that between the emperor Constantine and his rival Maxentius on the Milvian bridge near Rome. However, instead of providing specific historic detail that would identify the conflict, Claude emphasizes the contrast between human turmoil and nature’s tranquil beauty.

    I pointed the tiny group of people out to the two friends who were with me, and they had to make a conscious effort to realize that, no, that is not just a white man who has been placed in very dark shade… It was cool to watch it dawn on them! Also, do the three in the front look like a multiracial family?

    (This is one of two pieces I will be submitting from my trip to this amazing museum.)

  4. "Unforgiven": The Rock Highlander Fic

    medievalpoc:

    aboyoficeandfire reblogged your photo:
    Vampire

    I demand fanfic immediately*

    (context)

    image

    * Highlander fic will also be acceptable

    THE HIGHLANDER FIC HAS BEEN WRITTEN AND YOU CAN READ IT HERE

  5. disneybird submitted to medievalpoc:

    This submission is about the artist; he has several paintings with poc. Another find from the National Gallery in London. Frans Post, as they call him in a painting on loan that I saw, was from Haarlem and painted scenes inspired by the time he spent in a colony in Brazil. I included the Rijksmuseum link since they have many more of his paintings in a better image quality than the National Gallery.

    Unfortunately, “A Landscape in Brazil”, the painting I saw in the National Gallery, is not on the Rijksmuseum site but a low-res version can be found on the National Gallery site in paintings/frans-post-landscape-in-brazil.

    Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

    Thanks for the awesome submission! A reminder, you can view all of these full paintings at high resolution for free at the link above.

  6. disneybird submitted to medievalpoc:

    A Sea-Shore

    Claude-Joseph Vernet

    1776

    He was a French landscape painter. This is a fictional landscape. POC include the page at the left of the ladies and the man in the middle in the boat. It is at the National Gallery in London.

  7. no1iknow:

    medievalpoc:

    Tomb Effigy of Jean d’Alluye, mid–13th century
    French; Made in Loire Valley
    Limestone; 83 1/2 x 34 1/4 in. (212.1 x 87 cm)
    The Cloisters Collection, 1925 (25.120.201)

    The Metropolitan Museum of Art

    Photo credits:

    1. Tomb Effigy of Jean d’Alluye (photograph by palindrome6996/Flickr user)

    2. A closer look at the sword (photograph by Allison Meier of atlasobscura.com)

    3.  (photograph by Qabluna/Flickr user)

    Alec submitted to medievalpoc:

    Saw this in person a while back and though it was pretty interesting that this person / his family thought the sword was important enough to put on his tomb effigy.

    It also is pretty clear evidence for contact, at least indirectly (not that that’s in question) between China and France.

    You can read an article about this sword here.

    OK, I’ve read the article, and it doesn’t make sense, given what the pictures show. Why is a French knight’s sword with a trefoil/fluer-de-lys pommel and an atypical but unremarkable crosspiece presented as Chinese? The article says something about the blade, but that isn’t even “visible”, the blade is hidden in the scabbard, which appears to have been carved to show it holding a standard straight medieval blade.

    I’m confused. It would be a neat find, but…

    "Being presented as Chinese”? Interesting choice of phrasing there…

    Maybe you should ask the Curator Emeritus of Arms and Armor at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, whose article is cited in THAT article:

    and quoted:

    Whether it was traded peacefully along the ancient Silk Road, or was carried by a raider on the conquering horses of the Mongols, whether Jean d’Alluye acquired it as an exotic collector’s item in the bazaar of some Levantine port, or took it as booty on a Syrian battlefield, we will never know.

    I mean, yeah, question what you read but also check the sources if you have questions. This isn’t smoke and mirrors, it’s research.

  8. Tomb Effigy of Jean d’Alluye, mid–13th century
    French; Made in Loire Valley
    Limestone; 83 1/2 x 34 1/4 in. (212.1 x 87 cm)
    The Cloisters Collection, 1925 (25.120.201)

    The Metropolitan Museum of Art

    Photo credits:

    1. Tomb Effigy of Jean d’Alluye (photograph by palindrome6996/Flickr user)

    2. A closer look at the sword (photograph by Allison Meier of atlasobscura.com)

    3.  (photograph by Qabluna/Flickr user)

    Alec submitted to medievalpoc:

    Saw this in person a while back and though it was pretty interesting that this person / his family thought the sword was important enough to put on his tomb effigy.

    It also is pretty clear evidence for contact, at least indirectly (not that that’s in question) between China and France.

    You can read an article about this sword here.

  9. ☛ Third Medievalpoc Patreon Goal Reached: Print Shop!

    I want to send my sincere thanks out to all of you for supporting Medievalpoc’s expanding possibilities through patronage. I’ll be starting work on the Print Shop ASAP, and keep you all briefed on new developments as they happen.
    Wow!!!

  10. mediumaevum:

Medieval Hair Care
So that hair might grow wherever you wish. Take barley bread with the crust, and grind it with salt and bear fat. But first burn the barley bread. With this mixture anoint the place and the hair will grow.
Cook down dregs of white wine with honey to the consistency of a cerotum and anoint the hair, if you wish it to be golden. 
If the woman wishes to have long and black hair, take a green lizard and, having removed its head and tail , cook it in common oil. Anoint the head with this oil. It makes the hair long and black.
If, needed, you wish to have hair soft and smooth and fine, wash it often with hot water in which there is powder of natron [Native hydrous sodium carbonate] and vetch.
Take some dried roses, clove, nutmeg, watercress and galangal. Let all these, powdered, be mixed with rose water. With this water let her sprinkle her hair and comb it with a comb dipped in this same water so that [her hair] will smell better. And let her make furrows in her hair and sprinkle on the above-mentioned powder, and it will smell marvelously.
("De Ornatu Mulierum /On Women’s Cosmetics." in The Trotula : A Medieval Compendium of Women’s Medicine (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 2001))
image: Lorenzo Costa, Portrait of a Woman

Fun fact-some of these do work. And, they can work for Medieval POC, too! Just keep in mind that “Natural” isn’t always “Better”; the risk of allergic reactions and irritations is going to be there with pretty much any treatment or cosmetic made from plants or animals.
The “dregs of white wine” is probably dilute vinegar, which will lighten your hair, and the honey will moisturize it. This is fairly safe and beneficial for all hair types including Black hair, and can gently add highlights. Don’t, however, use undiluted vinegar on your hair or scalp.

[source]
The powder of natron is a powerful water softener, also called “washing soda” and “soda ash”. This makes water clean the hair more effectively, which in turn will make it softer. If the “vetch” referred to is milk vetch, the root is still used sometimes topically to increase blood flow to the area, which can theoretically increase hair growth. Although using soda ash in higher concentrations can significantly damage your hair, in controlled applications, it also loosens curls. It’s even used marketed as “Natural Hair Relaxer” for Black hair, under brand names like “Natralaxer”. In more dilute mixtures, it’s very good clarifier for any texture of oily hair, especially if your hair is very thick or coarse.

[source]
The dressing for hair growth with bear fat is an almost universally used recipe all over the world. Bear tallow pomade has been used by Indigenous Americans, Ancient China, Medieval Europe…pretty much everywhere. You can actually still buy it for that purpose. I think that the barley bread ash (charcoal, basically) was probably used for color and shine; a lot of different people mixed pigments into bear grease to add color and shine to their hair.This dressing used on long Black hair would have created a style much like this one:

[source]
Rather than bear fat, I find coconut oil to be an improvement. I often use it for braided styles myself, and I think that adding a bit of pigment or color to it would be a fun experiment.

[source]
Speaking of coloring hair…I have no clue whatsoever whether lizard frying oil would make a difference in hair color, but there’s honestly no reason to suppose that some kind of chemical produced by its skin couldn’t have caused a change in color…dyes and pigments can come from unlikely sources. Remember when everyone was freaking out because Starbucks used a coloring made from crushed beetles to color some of its drinks? All sorts of items have been used by all genders throughout history to add that extra special something to their hairstyles.

[source]
The hair perfume would certainly have smelled lovely, but a lot of the ingredients, like the clove, nutmeg, and galangal are not native to Europe and would have been imported from Southeast Asia and quite expensive. The ingredients as well as the recipes would have traveled from those areas. Galangal especially has beneficial topical uses similar to ginger, or tea tree oil. It’s mildly antimicrobial, so if there’s anything like fungus or dandruff clogging up your follicles, it can remove impediments to hair growth. Nutmeg oil can also mildly lighten hair a little. And all of them will result in a tingly, “spicy” scalp, and can cause burning if you have sensitive skin.

[source]
A last note-these cosmetic recipes come from a book known as “The Trotula”, which was created by Trotula of Salerno, who revolutionized Medieval medicine by and for women, synthesizing knowledge flowing out of Asia and the Middle East regarding medicine and specifically gynecology. In Medieval Europe, some of the most well-known people of color were physicians, because African and Asian medicine was well-known and revered.

Wikipedia page for Trotula

    mediumaevum:

    Medieval Hair Care

    • So that hair might grow wherever you wish. Take barley bread with the crust, and grind it with salt and bear fat. But first burn the barley bread. With this mixture anoint the place and the hair will grow.
    • Cook down dregs of white wine with honey to the consistency of a cerotum and anoint the hair, if you wish it to be golden
    • If the woman wishes to have long and black hair, take a green lizard and, having removed its head and tail , cook it in common oil. Anoint the head with this oil. It makes the hair long and black.
    • If, needed, you wish to have hair soft and smooth and fine, wash it often with hot water in which there is powder of natron [Native hydrous sodium carbonate] and vetch.
    • Take some dried roses, clove, nutmeg, watercress and galangal. Let all these, powdered, be mixed with rose water. With this water let her sprinkle her hair and comb it with a comb dipped in this same water so that [her hair] will smell better. And let her make furrows in her hair and sprinkle on the above-mentioned powder, and it will smell marvelously.

    ("De Ornatu Mulierum /On Women’s Cosmetics." in The Trotula : A Medieval Compendium of Women’s Medicine (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 2001))

    image: Lorenzo Costa, Portrait of a Woman

    Fun fact-some of these do work. And, they can work for Medieval POC, too! Just keep in mind that “Natural” isn’t always “Better”; the risk of allergic reactions and irritations is going to be there with pretty much any treatment or cosmetic made from plants or animals.

    The “dregs of white wine” is probably dilute vinegar, which will lighten your hair, and the honey will moisturize it. This is fairly safe and beneficial for all hair types including Black hair, and can gently add highlights. Don’t, however, use undiluted vinegar on your hair or scalp.

    image

    [source]

    The powder of natron is a powerful water softener, also called “washing soda” and “soda ash”. This makes water clean the hair more effectively, which in turn will make it softer. If the “vetch” referred to is milk vetch, the root is still used sometimes topically to increase blood flow to the area, which can theoretically increase hair growth. Although using soda ash in higher concentrations can significantly damage your hair, in controlled applications, it also loosens curls. It’s even used marketed as “Natural Hair Relaxer” for Black hair, under brand names like “Natralaxer”. In more dilute mixtures, it’s very good clarifier for any texture of oily hair, especially if your hair is very thick or coarse.

    image

    [source]

    The dressing for hair growth with bear fat is an almost universally used recipe all over the world. Bear tallow pomade has been used by Indigenous Americans, Ancient China, Medieval Europe…pretty much everywhere. You can actually still buy it for that purpose. I think that the barley bread ash (charcoal, basically) was probably used for color and shine; a lot of different people mixed pigments into bear grease to add color and shine to their hair.This dressing used on long Black hair would have created a style much like this one:

    image

    [source]

    Rather than bear fat, I find coconut oil to be an improvement. I often use it for braided styles myself, and I think that adding a bit of pigment or color to it would be a fun experiment.

    image

    [source]

    Speaking of coloring hair…I have no clue whatsoever whether lizard frying oil would make a difference in hair color, but there’s honestly no reason to suppose that some kind of chemical produced by its skin couldn’t have caused a change in color…dyes and pigments can come from unlikely sources. Remember when everyone was freaking out because Starbucks used a coloring made from crushed beetles to color some of its drinks? All sorts of items have been used by all genders throughout history to add that extra special something to their hairstyles.

    image

    [source]

    The hair perfume would certainly have smelled lovely, but a lot of the ingredients, like the clove, nutmeg, and galangal are not native to Europe and would have been imported from Southeast Asia and quite expensive. The ingredients as well as the recipes would have traveled from those areas. Galangal especially has beneficial topical uses similar to ginger, or tea tree oil. It’s mildly antimicrobial, so if there’s anything like fungus or dandruff clogging up your follicles, it can remove impediments to hair growth. Nutmeg oil can also mildly lighten hair a little. And all of them will result in a tingly, “spicy” scalp, and can cause burning if you have sensitive skin.

    image

    [source]

    A last note-these cosmetic recipes come from a book known as “The Trotula”, which was created by Trotula of Salerno, who revolutionized Medieval medicine by and for women, synthesizing knowledge flowing out of Asia and the Middle East regarding medicine and specifically gynecology. In Medieval Europe, some of the most well-known people of color were physicians, because African and Asian medicine was well-known and revered.

    image

    Wikipedia page for Trotula

    (via maryrobinette)