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 2: Europe and the World Beyond

Product Details


$106.00 • £92.95 • €96.95

ISBN 9780674052628

Publication Date: 11/14/2011


Add to Cart

Media Requests:

Related Subjects

This volume, part of a monumental series about the depiction of black peoples in Western art history, covers the period from the Renaissance and Baroque eras into the imperialism and colonialism of the 18th century… The volume is richly illustrated with artworks from many sources in a wide variety of media… This volume and the rest of the series has inestimable value in furthering understanding of how attitudes toward issues of race have evolved.—Eugene C. Burt, Library Journal (starred review)

Inspired to collect images of Africans and the diaspora during the height of the Civil Rights movement, Dominique Schlumberger de Menil and her husband John amassed over 30,000 images as an artistic and academic counter against racism. These images were sorted, studied, and grouped into a series of volumes originally published in the late 1970s and early 1980s; long out of print, they are now beautifully reproduced along with additional color plates and scholarly commentary. This edition focuses on the depictions of blacks during the 16th–18th centuries. Due to Eurocentric attitudes of the time, few works depict black individuals; rather, people of African descent were often studied at an anthropological level and commonly depicted as pages, slaves, or servants. Though the series has rightfully become embraced by academia, even armchair historians will find the book to be a feast of information and commentary. Digressions on the black Magus and the debate about the race of Madonna and Jesus are fascinating, but it is the breathtaking collection of artwork that makes the greatest impact. The rich and varied array, printed on high-quality paper, must be seen to be fully appreciated.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

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

Recent News

Black lives matter. Black voices matter. A statement from HUP »

From Our Blog

Jacket: Iron and Blood: A Military History of the German-Speaking Peoples since 1500, by Peter Wilson, from Harvard University Press

A Lesson in German Military History with Peter Wilson

In his landmark book Iron and Blood: A Military History of the German-Speaking Peoples since 1500, acclaimed historian Peter H. Wilson offers a masterful reappraisal of German militarism and warfighting over the last five centuries, leading to the rise of Prussia and the world wars. Below, Wilson answers our questions about this complex history,