People of Color in European Art History

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    The Absolutely Mind-Blowing Painted Interior of Debre Birhan Selassie Church in Ethiopia

    Although attributions and the possible dates of these paintings remain shrouded in mystery, the cumulative effect is haunting, ethereal, and otherworldly. Most accounts agree the church here was officially “Built” by Emperor Iyasu the Great in the late 1600s, it was built on the foundations of an even older church.

    Although this blog focuses on Medieval European Art History, the interplay and influence between the large contingent of Christian Ethiopians and many European countries is well-documented. The Ethiopian style of icon-painting seen here is very distinct, with the large eyes, serene expressions, and halos of hair typical of religious paintings in the time and place.

    Murals on the walls depict the heroism of Saint George, scenes from the Passion, various other figures from the Bible including Satan, and the ceiling of Selassie Church is covered at its apex with dozens of angel heads that gaze down upon all with what appears to be quiet joy and a kind of mischievous curiosity.

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    [some images removed by request]