People of Color in European Art History


  1. naterlies submitted to medievalpoc:

I came across this panel in the V&A when I visited it last week - it’s more of the depictions of whiteness by POC variety than the other way around, but hopefully it will be useful!
I had some trouble attaching my own photo so here’s a link to download the V&A’s photo from their archive. The panel is estimated to have been made between 1700 and 1825.
http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O106897/panel-unknown/
"This embroidered hanging depicts the martyrdom of St Sebastian (traditionally believed to have taken place around 288). The red silk background (now faded) is the colour associated with the commemoration of Christian martyrs in the Roman Catholic Church. This textile was probably used during a religious procession. It may have been produced by Chinese embroiderers in Macao or Canton, either for Portuguese colonial settlers in Macau, or for export to Portuguese colonies."
Thanks for all the great work you do, you’ve brought a new level of critical thinking to the front of my mind and it really enriched my experience as I traveled and visited museums these last few weeks. I should be able to submit more things I’ve found once I’ve sorted out my photos and sources!

This is really cool! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Chinese work depicting Saint Sebastian, specifically.

    naterlies submitted to medievalpoc:

    I came across this panel in the V&A when I visited it last week - it’s more of the depictions of whiteness by POC variety than the other way around, but hopefully it will be useful!

    I had some trouble attaching my own photo so here’s a link to download the V&A’s photo from their archive. The panel is estimated to have been made between 1700 and 1825.

    http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O106897/panel-unknown/

    "This embroidered hanging depicts the martyrdom of St Sebastian (traditionally believed to have taken place around 288). The red silk background (now faded) is the colour associated with the commemoration of Christian martyrs in the Roman Catholic Church. This textile was probably used during a religious procession. It may have been produced by Chinese embroiderers in Macao or Canton, either for Portuguese colonial settlers in Macau, or for export to Portuguese colonies."

    Thanks for all the great work you do, you’ve brought a new level of critical thinking to the front of my mind and it really enriched my experience as I traveled and visited museums these last few weeks. I should be able to submit more things I’ve found once I’ve sorted out my photos and sources!

    This is really cool! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Chinese work depicting Saint Sebastian, specifically.

  2. att. Kano Domi

    Namban Byobu (detail): Portuguese Merchants Arriving at a Japanese Port

    Edo period, Japan (c. 1590-1600)

    [x] [x] [x]

    Namban Art

  3. att. Kano Domi

    Namban Byobu (detail)

    Edo period, Japan (c. 1590-1600)

     [x] [x]

    Namban Art

  4. att. Kano Domi
Namban Byobu (detail): A Portuguese Merchant and a Japanese Noble Confer
Edo period, Japan (c. 1590-1600)
[x] [x] [x]
Namban Art

    att. Kano Domi

    Namban Byobu (detail): A Portuguese Merchant and a Japanese Noble Confer

    Edo period, Japan (c. 1590-1600)

    [x] [x] [x]

    Namban Art

  5. att. Kano Naizen
Namban Byobu (detail)
Japan, Edo period (c. 1570-1600)
[x]
Namban Art

    att. Kano Naizen

    Namban Byobu (detail)

    Japan, Edo period (c. 1570-1600)

    [x]

    Namban Art

  6. att. Kano Domi
Namban Byobu (fragment)
Edo period, Japan (c. 1590-1600)
[x]
Namban Art

    att. Kano Domi

    Namban Byobu (fragment)

    Edo period, Japan (c. 1590-1600)

    [x]

    Namban Art

  7. Unknown Artist
Saltcellar with Carved European Figures
Benin (c. 1525)
Carved Ivory, 19.2 x 9.8 cm.
This salt cellar, despite being incomplete, demonstrates the mastery with which the craftsmen of Benin (what is now Nigeria), combined European iconography with local decorative motifs, creating pieces of great originality intended for a discriminating clientele. This object, though incomplete, is a highly dynamic sculpture that expresses the tension of the rider on the lid, and the movement of the figures alternating around the cup. The keen aesthetic is an excellent example of the production of exquisite pieces of custom ivory, especially in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, as a result of the Portuguese presence on the west coast of Africa.
-Museo Nacional de Arte Antiga
(sorry for my poor translation)

    Unknown Artist

    Saltcellar with Carved European Figures

    Benin (c. 1525)

    Carved Ivory, 19.2 x 9.8 cm.

    This salt cellar, despite being incomplete, demonstrates the mastery with which the craftsmen of Benin (what is now Nigeria), combined European iconography with local decorative motifs, creating pieces of great originality intended for a discriminating clientele. This object, though incomplete, is a highly dynamic sculpture that expresses the tension of the rider on the lid, and the movement of the figures alternating around the cup. The keen aesthetic is an excellent example of the production of exquisite pieces of custom ivory, especially in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, as a result of the Portuguese presence on the west coast of Africa.

    -Museo Nacional de Arte Antiga

    (sorry for my poor translation)

  8. att. Kano Naizen

    Namban Byobu (detail)

    Japan, Edo period (c. 1570-1600)

    [x]

    Namban Art

  9. Anonymous Artist 
Seated Portuguese Figure
Benin (18th Century)
Brass, 12.38 cm.

Merchants and explorers from Portugal first made contact with the kingdom of Benin in 1486, initiating an economic relationship that ultimately had a profound impact upon the art and politics of this West African state. Benin’s oral histories relate how Oba Esigie, who ruled Benin in the early sixteenth century, skillfully utilized these new trading partners to augment and consolidate his personal power and expand his kingdom’s military and economic strength within the Guinea Coast region of Africa. From this period onward, images of Portuguese traders were widely incorporated into royal Benin art forms.
This tiny figure of a seated Portuguese man is a type of cast brass sculpture displayed on royal ancestral altars within the palace compound. Given its small size, it may have originally been a component of a larger work, now lost, such as an altar tableau (aseberia) or a brass altar to the hand (ikegobo).
Although the Portuguese were physically different and initially quite unfamiliar to Benin’s artists, sculptural depictions such as this one are very much in keeping with the aesthetic criteria and conventions of Benin courtly arts. In this sculptural tradition, identity and social status were indicated through clothing and other personal accoutrements rather than by facial features, which were typically generalized and slightly abstracted. Like most Benin artists, the creator of this seated figure exaggerated those generic aspects of the European face he found distinctive and representative, such as the large, beaklike nose, long hair, and luxurious moustache and beard.
However, most of his interest appears to have been directed toward his subject’s costume: its naturalism exhibits a keen attention to detail. The high-crowned hat, buttoned doublet with flared shoulders, patterned sleeves, ruffled collar, breeches, and boots are all faithfully rendered. Compared to other Portuguese subjects depicted in cast brass sculptures from Benin, this man’s clothing appears to be especially fine and elaborate, suggesting an individual of significant wealth and importance.

-Metropolitan Museum of Art

    Anonymous Artist

    Seated Portuguese Figure

    Benin (18th Century)

    Brass, 12.38 cm.

    Merchants and explorers from Portugal first made contact with the kingdom of Benin in 1486, initiating an economic relationship that ultimately had a profound impact upon the art and politics of this West African state. Benin’s oral histories relate how Oba Esigie, who ruled Benin in the early sixteenth century, skillfully utilized these new trading partners to augment and consolidate his personal power and expand his kingdom’s military and economic strength within the Guinea Coast region of Africa. From this period onward, images of Portuguese traders were widely incorporated into royal Benin art forms.

    This tiny figure of a seated Portuguese man is a type of cast brass sculpture displayed on royal ancestral altars within the palace compound. Given its small size, it may have originally been a component of a larger work, now lost, such as an altar tableau (aseberia) or a brass altar to the hand (ikegobo).

    Although the Portuguese were physically different and initially quite unfamiliar to Benin’s artists, sculptural depictions such as this one are very much in keeping with the aesthetic criteria and conventions of Benin courtly arts. In this sculptural tradition, identity and social status were indicated through clothing and other personal accoutrements rather than by facial features, which were typically generalized and slightly abstracted. Like most Benin artists, the creator of this seated figure exaggerated those generic aspects of the European face he found distinctive and representative, such as the large, beaklike nose, long hair, and luxurious moustache and beard.

    However, most of his interest appears to have been directed toward his subject’s costume: its naturalism exhibits a keen attention to detail. The high-crowned hat, buttoned doublet with flared shoulders, patterned sleeves, ruffled collar, breeches, and boots are all faithfully rendered. Compared to other Portuguese subjects depicted in cast brass sculptures from Benin, this man’s clothing appears to be especially fine and elaborate, suggesting an individual of significant wealth and importance.

    -Metropolitan Museum of Art

  10. Edo Period Artist
Namban Screen featuring the Portuguese on a Carrack (detail)
Japan (c. 1590s)
Paint and Gold Leaf on Paper Panels.
Namban (or nanban), which literally translates as “southern barbarians,” was a term commonly applied to the Portuguese traders who began arriving in Japan in the mid-fifteenth century.
[x] [x]
Namban Art

    Edo Period Artist

    Namban Screen featuring the Portuguese on a Carrack (detail)

    Japan (c. 1590s)

    Paint and Gold Leaf on Paper Panels.

    Namban (or nanban), which literally translates as “southern barbarians,” was a term commonly applied to the Portuguese traders who began arriving in Japan in the mid-fifteenth century.

    [x] [x]

    Namban Art