Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Women in ART History - Part 3 (Depictions of Black Women)

 Black people have been portrayed in many ways over the years. However, since this is Women's History Month, this blog is about black women. More specifically, the portrayal of black women in Europe. (it's more difficult to find classic-era paintings in America as much was made of the "mammy culture.)

Many times, artists painted white women in lieu of black women in terms of mythological and biblical representations.

There's an ambiguity involving  beautiful Andromeda, who was rescued by Perseus, as she's been described as being from Ethiopia. Yet, famous paintings depict her as white.  ("Andromeda and Perseus" (1622) Peter Paul Rubens)

Similarly was the case when it came to the Queen of Sheba. Even though the line in the Songs of Solomon reads,  "My skin is dark and beautiful, like a tent in the desert or like Solomon's curtains."

(Below "Solomon and the Queen of Sheba"(1630) Willem De Poorter)

 A couple of the more outstanding examples of the portrayals of black women as maids and servants in popular art of the 19th Century are:

(Below-left) Eugene Delacroix's painting of "The Women of Algiers" (1834)

 (Below- right) Edouard Manet's painting titled, "Olympia." (1863) 

The times in Europe were changing. Frederic Bazelle's painting, "Young Woman with Peonies" (1870) is such an example. 9BELOW) Other paintings portraying the beauty of black women began to appear more and more..

By the time of Henri Matisse's "Woman in a White Dress," (1946) the recognition of the portrayal of black women as not just servants to the rich white people, but as a person on to her own were well underway in Europe.

Next week:

Women in Art History -  Part 3, Native American Women

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