THE IMAGE OF THE BLACK IN WESTERN ART
Cover: The Image of the Black in Western Art, Volume III: From the Cover: The Image of the Black in Western Art, Volume III: From the

The Image of the Black in Western Art, Volume III: From the "Age of Discovery" to the Age of Abolition, Part 3: The Eighteenth Century

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$100.00 • £79.95 • €90.00

ISBN 9780674052635

Publication: November 2011

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The latest in the series presenting Dominique and John de Menil’s vast collection of images of Africans and the Diaspora, this volume examines the artwork of increasingly anti-slavery societies. As a byproduct of the Enlightenment, many people no longer considered skin color to be ‘anything more than a superficial sign of difference.’ As people of African descent became more integrated into society, they gradually came to be viewed as subjects rather than slaves. Ornate sculptures, elaborate dioramas, and myriad portraits show a greater appreciation of blacks as individuals as opposed to an idea or commodity. There are still plenty of depictions of blacks as pages, servants, and, in the case of Louis XIV’s court, fashion accessories, but there are also remarkably progressive works such as William Hackwood’s Wedgewood medallion, which shows a chained slave in prayer, circumscribed by the pressing question ‘Am I Not A Man and a Brother?,’ that illustrate slowly changing cultural perceptions of race… Like its predecessors, this is a vital and engaging work that deserves appreciation and study.Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Praise for the series:

I also would recommend The Image of the Black in Western Art, which is both expensive and priceless. It’s fascinating to see how black people were viewed before we decided that African ancestry made you, by God or science, property.—Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic online

Monumental and groundbreaking volumes…[with] beautifully reproduced and thought-provoking images… A vast array of different ‘Images of the Black’ appear in these volumes, from statues of black saints such as St. Maurice or St. Benedict the Moor, to portraits of notable African ambassadors and kings, poets and musicians, or drawings of literary characters such as Shakespeare’s Othello, Aphra Behn’s Oroonoko, or Yarico from George Colman’s Inkle and Yarico… Africans have been painted and sculpted by some of the most eminent artists in the Western tradition, including Titian, Tiepolo, Rubens, Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Reynolds, Hogarth, Watteau and Gainsborough. More importantly, they have not been caricatured, but sensitively portrayed by these masters, their humanity captured on canvas for all to see… In placing such a vast variety of different images together, both positive and negative, these volumes show that the ‘Image of the Black’ was not at all homogenous but rather reflected the wide range of the Western response to the ‘other.’ …Seen through the prism of ‘Western Art,’ these ‘Images of the Black’ often tell us more about the Europeans and their agendas than the Africans they portray. Nonetheless, the cumulative effect of the images is to demonstrate a continuous black presence in the Western imagination and experience… This series will pose new questions to scholars of art, history and literature and provoke us all to reconsider the role of ‘the Black’ in Western civilization.—Miranda Kaufmann, The Times Literary Supplement

The Image of the Black in Western Art [is] a truly epic project… The series, scheduled for completion in 2014, is, so far, as eye-opening to view as it is to read and, one volume at a time, could be the answer to gift gifting for several years to come.—Holland Cotter, The New York Times

A fascinating story of the changing image of Africa’s people in Western art. The images are simply extraordinary and the scholarship inspiring. Anyone who cares about Western art or about Africa and her diaspora ought to know these magnificent volumes.—Kwame Anthony Appiah

In addition to being an indispensable guide to the evolving meanings of racial difference, these dazzling volumes filled with extraordinary images and rich arguments contribute to an alternative history of the Western world. An invaluable gift for both specialists and general readers.—Paul Gilroy, author of The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness

Praise for the previous edition:

One concludes from these pioneering volumes that artistic representations were historical ‘events’ that eventually helped to shape a mentality that justified the enslavement of millions of Africans as well as later attempts to Christianize and liberate their descendants.—David Brion Davis, The New York Review of Books