People of Color in European Art History


  1. Viking Sculptor

    Runic Stone: Crucified Christ in Interlace

    Denmark (c. 940 A. D.)

    Runestone

    Made for Harald Bluetooth:

    "King Harald bade these memorials to be made after Gorm, his father, and Thyra, his mother. The Harald who won the whole of Denmark and Norway and turned the Danes to Christianity."

    Denmark, East Jutland, Jelling

    ArtSTOR/[x] [x] [x] [x]

    It’s also interesting in a historical context as this was during a time when the Vikings were expanding and had a great deal of contact with peoples on other continents-which is how Harald Bluetooth ended up a Christian in the first place.

    In fact, the only 100% confirmed pre-Columbian Viking Settlement in the Americas at L’Anse aux Meadows dates only 50 or so years later.

    This Norsified version of Christ resembles Byzantine and Coptic Christian images moreso than those from other parts of the world.

    Byzantine:

    Coptic:

    But at this time, Jesus was more or less consistently depicted as a person of color regardless of where the art was made. Christs from Belgium were looking like this:

    Lobbes Bible ms. 1 fol. 6 Genesis Initial (1064)

    England:

    Psalter (fragment). whole page, Folio #: fol. 085r. (1025)

    Spain:

    Christ in Majesty with symbols of the Evangelists, illumination from a Castilian Moralia in Job, fol. 2 (945)

    Germany:

    Munster: St. Johann Int.: nave fresco: Scenes of the Life of Christ: det.: Christ and the children (800)