People of Color in European Art History


  1. Ancient Art Week!

    Footstool Featuring African and Asian Captives

    Egyptian (ca. 1354—ca. 1345 B.C.)

    Wood Overlaid with Stucco, Gilt, and Glass

    Egyptian Museum, Cairo.

    The Image of the Black in Western Art Research Project and Photo Archive, W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research, Harvard University

    I wanted to feature this piece for a few reasons. Firstly, because it’s gorgeous. Secondly, because it’s obvious these captives are neither bent nor broken-their golden robes, beautiful hairstyles and jewelry demonstrates that they represent valuable and high-ranking captives of conquest.

    Another reason I wanted to feature this piece is because it is one of the amazing artworks that Egypt has managed to retain as one of its national treasures. One merely needs to Google “British Museum refuses to return…” to get hundreds of articles detailing how the British ransacked the treasures of the world and will not let them go. Among the most hotly contested objects are the Parthenon Marbles, a.k.a. the Elgin Marbles. If you’re curious as to the downright vicious levels of vitriol involved in Britain’s refusal to return these works to their country of origin, just read a few lines of this article by Ricard Dorment:

    So here are a few ideas for the Greeks: first, why not erect a statue of Lord Elgin near the Parthenon to express their nation’s gratitude to him for saving the marbles?[…] Second, instead of whining about events that happened more than two centuries ago, perhaps the Greek ambassador should formally thank Britain for displaying the marbles in those beautiful galleries at the British Museum, where 4.6 million visitors a year from all over the world can view them free of charge.

    As for Egyptian artifacts, well. There is even less chance that the British Museum will ever returns any of those, many of which were outright stolen.

    Including The Rosetta Stone. Other Egyptian artifacts being held by European Museums include the famous Bust of Nefertiti (Berlin Museum), bits of various tombs illegally chipped off and being held at various European museums, 3200-year-old golden burial masks, and much, much more.

    The above footstool is one of the artifacts from the tomb of Tutankhamun or “King Tut”. Articles from this tomb have been scattered all over the world, and some of them are slowly but surely making their way back to Egypt.