People of Color in European Art History


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    This is a collection of art depicting people of color from the history of Denmark.

    I’ve noticed that there have been a lot of people claiming “historical accuracy” once again in the tag for Disney’s Frozen, which according to many white fans, “everyone has to be white because it’s set in Denmark”.

    These depictions range from the 1360s to the 1800s. The portraits of Danish royalty include the well-off servants of the Royal Family of Denmark. These are portraits of real people.

    In addition to Black people living in Denmark throughout history, there is also a large population of Sami people in Scandinavia, who are also people of color.

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    The Sami are indigenous to Scandinavia.

    The claim that a fantasy movie like Frozen is somehow subject to “historical accuracy” is a ridiculous assertion in the first place; but moreover, it doesn’t hold water. People of color have been living in Denmark for thousands of years.

    The lack of racial representation in Frozen reflects modern racism, not “historical accuracy”.

    1. Karel Van Mander III. Prince George of Denmark (1653-1708) son of Frederick III. Denmark, 1667. Image of the Black in Western Art (Harvard University).

    2. Karel van Mander III.  Queen Anna of Denmark (?-1611), wife of Christian IV (1577-1648), king of Denmark and Norway. Denmark, 1672. Image of the Black in Western Art (Harvard University).

    3. Ottmar Elliger I. Full-length portrait of Isaack le Petit (1651-1723). Denmark, 1658. Image of the Black in Western Art (Harvard University).

    4. Jérémias Falck, Royal Engraver of the Court of Denmark. Allegory of Africa. Denmark, 1650s. Image of the Black in Western Art (Harvard University).

    5. Abraham Wuchters. Painting. Queen Hedvig Eleonora (1636-1715), princess of Holstein-Gottorp, married to the king of Sweden Karl X Gustaf (1622-1660). Denmark (painted in Denmark), 1661. Image of the Black in Western Art (Harvard University).

    6. Martinus Christian Wesseltoft Roerbye. Portrait of a Seated Nubian. Denmark, 1839. Image of the Black in Western Art (Harvard University).

    7. Anonymous (Denmark). Mural Painting Featuring Saint Maurice. Denmark, 1450. Image of the Black in Western Art (Harvard University).

    8. Anonymous (Denmark). Saint Maurice. Denmark, 1462. Image of the Black in Western Art (Harvard University).

    9. Anonymous (Denmark). Saint Maurice, Polychrome Wood. Denmark, 1360s. Image of the Black in Western Art (Harvard University).

    10. Georg Hinz. Curio Cabinet with Black Couple and the King of Denmark. Denmark, 1666. (Among the precious objects in the cabinet, a jewel containing a double cameo with the profiles of a black man and a black woman, both in Roman attire, facing each other. A second jewel surrounds a cameo with a laureated portrait of Christian IV [1577—1648], king of Denmark and Norway, as a Roman emperor.) Image of the Black in Western Art (Harvard University).

    11, 12, 13. Karel van Mander III, details from the Aethiopica series. Denmark, 1645. Image of the Black in Western Art (Harvard University).