People of Color in European Art History

  1. midlifebymydesign:


    The all-white reinvention of Medieval Europe commonly depicted in popular fiction, films, tv shows and art is entirely that: a fiction. An invention. An erasure. Obviously, people of color have been an essential and integral part of European life, European art, and European literary imagination since time immemorial. To cite “historical accuracy” as a means to project whitewashed images of the past into the future to maintain a fiction of white supremacy is an unconscionable farce.

    People of Color are not an anachronism.




    I would go so far that it is not so much a reinvention as it is an omission and invention. To say “reinvention” would imply the initial invention included black people: it did, as an afterthought,  but not in a positive light in any stretch. You cannot look at these images without providing context.

    Indeed, the 6th image of the little girl was PAINTED OUT of the picture she was in - the academics discovered that in 1940s. It was not until the late 1990s that white art historian Gabrielle Langdon brought that to light. And I was the first Black person to tell her categorically that the child was both black and a girl (she agreed and lamented the fact she had only been in contact with white scholars up to that point).   

    Until I got started on the project back in the nineties information about black people in the middle ages and Renaissance periods were NOT accessible - scattershot at best.  I had to go through the sources *by hand* one by one. Only in the past 5 years has Black academia caught up. The following is a result of over 15 years of cataloging and research.  I recommend that you look at the list and look up the stuff.

    I agree that every researcher that exists owes a debt of gratitude to every inquisitive mind and dedicated knowledge-seeker who came before. Obviously, I wouldn’t have any of the information that I do without the people who gathered it from primary sources, and it’s still exceedingly difficult to get the hard facts unburied from the centuries of people trying to cover it up. I’m genuinely humbled and grateful to all the people who came before me, compiling, scanning, and writing.

    The story of Giulia di’ Medici, and how she was painted over, literally, in the 19th century, can be read in the post I made with her. Each of the images in the promotional post comes from an already-published post.

    Here’s another link you provided on your webpage about Giulia de’ Medici and another portrait of her as an adult.

    As for use of terms “reinvention” versus “invention”, I use the term because it implies both that people of color were there for the initial “invention” of the middle ages, i.e., when it happened and was initially recorded; secondly, because it indicates the purposeful and calculated erasure done in the 19th and 20th centuries by white historians. A lot of the Illuminated Manuscripts I post are recordings of history that had happened a few hundred (or ten) years before.

    Basically, primary sources=”invention”; secondary sources from the 19th and 20th century were revised to omit, denigrate, and dismiss people of color, therefore reinventing history.

    For those interested in the posts I made for each of the above images, they are as follows:

    1. Don Miguel de Castro, Ambassador for the Kingdom of Kongo to Dutch Brazil (1637)

    2. Xiang Fei (Fragrant Concubine), of the Uighur, in European Armor (1760)

    3. Sir Morien, Black Knight of the Round Table (c. 1200s)

    4. Manuel I Komnenos and his second wife Maria of Antioch (c. 1150)

    5. Sancho I of Castile and Léon (c. 1129)

    6. Portrait of Maria Salviati de’ Medici with Giulia de’ Medici (1537)

    7. Mulay Ahmad portrait by Rubens (1609)

    8. Adoration of the Magi by David (c. 1490)

    9. special post about the Fayoum Mummy Portraits (c. 100 B.C.E.)

    10. Miniature from a Psalter, Including a Calendar (c. 1240)

    (via andweweretheretoo-deactivated20)