14 December 2012

Africans in Renaissance Europe 1: Drawings and Cameos

Durer, Portrait study of a black man. 
1508? Albertina, Vienna. 
From now through January 21, the Walters Art Gallery in Baltimore, Maryland, has an exhibition with the title Revealing the African Presence in Renaissance Europe. My plans to see it have not worked out, but I have the catalogue, and will give pictures from it in this and a subsequent blog

The catalogue is inexpensive and well worth, acquiring, with the warning that the illustrations for the exhibition itself are crammed into a section in the back, many of them printed the size of postage stamps. This is especially disappointing in the case of the woodcuts, which would have been the images most available to contemporaries. The sculpture in several photographs is poorly lighted. There is no index. Otherwise, this is a remarkable -- often beautiful -- collection of images of black faces with lucid supporting essays. I can see this catalogue as a class text.

Durer, Katherina
1521, Gabinetto Disegni e Stampe degli Uffizie, Florence

Jacob de Gehyn III, Studies from Plaster Casts,(before 1640)
Musée de Louvre, Cabinet des Dessins

Andrea Mantegna, Judith with her Black Slave
(ca. 1431-1506) Gabinetto Disegni e Stampe degli Uffizie, Florence

Paolo Veronese, Study of the Head of a Black Man
ca. 1573, Private collection, courtesy of MMA, New York

Paolo Veronese, Study of a Black Youth Eating
ca. 1580, Art market.

Ludovico Carracci, Head of a Black Man (1580-1600?) Philadelphia Museum of Art

Workshop of Girolamo Miseroni 16thC.
Setting by Hans Vermeyn 1602-08.
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.

Workshop of Girolamo Miseroni 16thC.
Staatliche Münzsammlung. Munich

Workshop of Girolamo Miseroni ca. 1560.
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Metropolitan Museum of Art, Late 16th C

Metropolitan Museum of Art

Milanese (?) 1550-1600.
Bibliothèques nationale de France, Paris.


  1. We live in Orange County New York. My son and some of his friends are going to the Renaissance Faire in a few weeks. His friends dress for the occasion. My son and I were trying to figure out an appropriate costume for a black male in Renaissance Europe. The images here give us some guidance, thank you.

  2. What an interesting idea! Thank you for taking the time to write.

  3. this is by far one of the best pieces I've seen of our ancient history. Thanks for sharing and bringing this knowledge of front........ amazing MYstories we have :)

  4. You are very kind to write. Thank you.


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