Jules Robert Auguste
Les Amies (Friends)
France (c. 1820s)
During the nineteenth century, a few European artists-unlike their American counterparts-attempted to depict what they saw as the sensuality, availability, and desirability of Black women. Jules Robert Auguste, a French artist active in the first half of the century, created erotic images of women frolicking, Black and white. These charged and sensuous pictures of unclothed women enjoying each other’s bodies served as a form of private titillation for the artist. A wealthy man, Auguste never sold his work; instead, his images were created to satisfy his own visual appetite. Les Amies, a watercolor thought to have been completed in the 1820s, shows a naked Black woman playfully poised on the lap of a partially dressed white woman. Contrasts between the brown and pink skin of the women, as well as the “oriental” textiles on which they lay, heighten the lushness of this private and voyeuristic glimpse of interracial play and affection between women.
Skin Deep, Spirit Strong: The Black Female Body in American Culture edited by Kimberly Wallace-Sanders. p 103-104.
William Holman Hunt
Afterglow in Egypt
Oil on Canvas, 82 x 38 cm.
Christos the Athenean
Nikolaos Gyzis (Greek, 1842-1901) – Portrait of an Arab (identified as Christos the Athenean), 1871
Christos the Arapis (dark skinned/Arab) was a well known 19th century Athenean. He was born in Africa, but along with his parents he had been taken as a slave by Ottoman Turks [thus freed when the Greek mainland was no longer under ottoman occupation].
He was multilingual, an independent thinker, and had good knowledge of politics and diplomacy. He was a distinguished and much loved member of Athenean society, a favourite subject of many contemporary painters, sculptors, and poets. When the painter Gyzis came to Athens, Christos was a living legend and he painted him on many occasions between 1871-1875 other than the portrait:
Head of an Arab
Oriental man with a musical instrument
Oriental man smoking
Oriental man with fruit
The punishment of the chicken thief (first man on the right)
Christos is the sublect of this painting by another well known Greek painter, Nikiforos Lytras.
Christos the Arapis (1873-74). Oil on canvas, 44x39,5 cm
Oh, wow!!! This has got to be one of my favorites submissions of all time. I love that these are all of the same man. You can see the age difference in some of the portraits, yet he remains incredibly charismatic. I think the only other Black European man that had as many portraits made of him that I have seen is Ira Aldridge, the Victorian actor. It’s easy to see why Christos would have been a legend in his own time.
Oil on Canvas, 90.2 x 116.8 cm.
Prayer in the Mosque
Oil on Canvas, 88.9 x 74.9 cm.
Orientalist images represent more than two-thirds of Gérôme’s painted oeuvre and are based on his travels in the Near East, especially North Africa. Paul-Marie Lenoir, Gérôme’s student and one of his traveling companions, recorded a description of their 1868 visit to the Egyptian mosque of ‘Amr in Cairo, founded in 640 A.D., whose interior Gérôme depicted in this painting. The rows of worshippers, ranging from the dignitary and his attendants to the loincloth-clad Muslim holy man, face Mecca during one of the five daily prayers. It is unlikely, however, that Gérôme witnessed such a scene at this particular mosque, which, by 1868, had fallen into disuse. Rather, the image is probably a composite of sketches as well as photographs of various sites.
-The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Jean Louis André Théodore Gericault
Lithograph on Wove Paper, 35.2 × 41.8 cm.
Jean Louis André Théodore Gericault
Portrait of the Model Joseph
Oil on Canvas, 46.5 x 30 cm.
The J. Paul Getty Museum.
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