Take a class with SAL - anywhere! Friedrich Ludwig, Hereditary Prince of Württemberg with his wife Hereditary Princess Henriette Marie (Henriette Marie of Brandenburg-Schwedt) by Antoine Pesne, 1716.In this painting a German prince shows his stiff turned-back cuffs, embroidered in gold, as is the centre of his coat. He wears his stockings over his breeches, and has a young Black slave. We are more than two thirds through February and I’ve been so busy posting pictures of your vegetable drawers that I haven’t posted for Black art history month. Terrible! To be honest, it has been a tough year and the last thing I want to do is send you pictures of more hard shit to process, but this is important. Amber Ruffin recently did a piece about how in addition to talking more about Black history, we also need to be more aware of the real white history. She makes some scary-true points. Inspired by Amber Ruffin, for Black history month, I’ll pause the 30SAL doodles for a day, and focus on a bit of horrifying white art history. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jdRAuBuZMNQ Thank you for the real history lesson, Amber. Now let’s take a moment to look at some racist asshats in white art history. History of Slavery Not all of the slaves in history are Black, but the use of Black people as slaves started before the “Enlightenment.” In the 17th century, science was employed to justify slavery, but the idea of inferior people was already deeply imbedded. I think it’s important to take a look at patterns of war and conquest, and the long history of economic dependency on slave labor. A blonde Jesus Healing of the (Black) Gadarene demoniacs. Psalter, folio 3v (detail), from Canterbury, c. 1200. Bibliothèque Nationale de France. The Invention of Race in the European Middle Ages. 6800 B.C. The world’s first city-state emerges in Mesopotamia. Land ownership and the early stages of technology bring war—in which enemies are captured and forced to work: slavery. 2575 B.C. Temple art celebrates the capture of slaves in battle. Egyptians capture slaves by sending special expeditions up the Nile River. 550 B.C. The city-state of Athens uses as many as 30,000 slaves in its silver mines. 120 A.D. Roman military campaigns capture slaves by the thousands. Some estimate the population of Rome is more than half slave. 500 Anglo-Saxons enslave the native Britons after invading England. 1000 Slavery is a normal practice in England’s rural, agricultural economy, as destitute workers place themselves and their families in a form of debt bondage to landowners. 1380 In the aftermath of the Black Plague, Europe’s slave trade thrives in response to a labor shortage. Slaves pour in from all over the continent, the Middle East, and North Africa. 1444 Portuguese traders bring the first large cargo of slaves from West Africa to Europe by sea—establishing the Atlantic slave trade. 1526 Spanish explorers bring the first African slaves to settlements in what would become the United States. These first African-Americans stage the first known slave revolt in the Americas. 1550 Slaves are depicted as objects of conspicuous consumption in much Renaissance art. 1641 Massachusetts becomes the first British colony to legalize slavery. (FreetheSlaves) Black children as accoutrement Sir Anthony van Dyck,”Marchesa Elena Grimaldi Cattaneo” 1623, oil on canvas During and following the Renaissance, it became fashionable for Black young men to be decorative pages, put into fancy costumes and tending to fashionable ladies and lords. This custom lasted for several centuries and the “African page” became a staple accoutrement of baroque and rococo style. (Wikiwand and RealHistories) Nicolas de Largillierre (French, 1656–1746). Portrait of a Woman, Possibly Madame Claude Lambert de Thorigny (Marie Marguerite Bontemps, 1668–1701), and an Enslaved Servant, 1696. A detail of the painting shows a dog and a child. Notice which is wearing the collar. A painting depicting the head of a Black page boy wearing a silver collar indicating his status as a slave. Dutch, 17th century. Elizabeth Murray, Lady Tollemache, later Countess of Dysart and Duchess of Lauderdale with a Black Servant, by Sir Peter Lely. 1651. If the nameless Black adornment in this painting is to be believed, the Duchess of Maitland, Elizabeth Murray had her hand in human trafficking. (Sartle) Jan Steen, Dutch (1626-1679). “Fantasy Interior with Jan Steen and the Family of Gerrit Schouten,” ca. 1659-1660. Oil on canvas, 33 3/8 x 39 13/16 inches These family portraits become a sickening game of “find the slave,” don’t they? Jan Mijtens, Dutch, about 1614–1670. “Willem van den Kerckhoven and His Family,” 1652 and 1655. Oil on canvas. Detail “Willem van den Kerckhoven and His Family” Jan Verkolje, “Johan de la Faille,” 1674, Oil on copper Portrait of Louise de Kerouaille, Pierre Mignard, 1682. These enslaved children were traded as fashion accessories, adornment to one’s outfit and a complement to one’s fair complexion, amusing little playthings, and props to elevate the white sitter’s status. When these living dolls outgrew their cuteness, they were typically deported to Caribbean sugar plantations, where most died before reaching adulthood. They went from wearing satin gowns to being beaten and tortured. Back in Europe, their former mistresses sweetened their coffee with cane sugar from where their former playthings had been sent to work, and to die. (Sartle) There are far more paintings like this. To see an extensive and sickening collection, grab a bucket, and visit Arisocrats & Servants (Slavery) on Pinterest. This ends part 1 of the incomplete but very long White Art History of Slavery. Tomorrow, we make a stop at the Capitol rotunda. Fear not. I’ll post the final pics of 30SAL soon, and award you prizes. Ruthie teaches art classes at Seattle Artist League. Click here to sign up for drawing, painting, pottery, and more!