Mixed Medici & Africans In Italian Renaissance Art

Alessandro de’ Medici wielded great power as the first duke of Florence. He was the patron of some of the leading artists of the era and is one of the two Medici princes whose remains are buried in the famous tomb by Michaelangelo. The ethnic make up of this Medici Prince makes him the first black head of state in the modern western world. View the PBS article on him at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/secret/famous/mediciupdate.html

Alessandro was born in 1510 to a black serving woman in the Medici household who, after her subsequent marriage to a muleteer, is simply referred to in existing documents as Simonetta da Collavechio. Historians today are convinced that Alessandro was fathered by the seventeen year old Cardinal Giulio de Medici who later became Pope Clement VII. Cardinal Giulio was the nephew of Lorenzo the Magnificent. The greater majority of the noble houses of Italy can today trace their ancestry back to Alessandro de Medici. And, as shown in the two lines of descent to the Hapsburgs drawn up below, so can a number of other princely families of Europe. Here is a painting of Alessandro:

Allessandro-the-moor
Alessandro Medici, Duke of Florence

Here are portraits of Alessandro’s daughter and grandaughter:

Giulia dei Medici
Giulia dei Medici
Maria Salviati de Medici
Maria Salviati de Medici

More on the mixed (Italian-African) Medici at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/secret/famous/medici.html

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REBLOGGED: 7 AFRICAN PORTRAITS OF FEMALES IN EUROPEAN ART

JULY 2014 – From http://anancymag.com/7-black-women-portraits-in-european-art/

“It is a habit that I can’t break – spotting the black face when visiting museums and art galleries. I am looking for the African face in the paintings and sculptures. It is an old childhood pattern of trying to find people who look like me.Growing up in England, I learned about classical Europeans paintings – from their images on the biscuit tins, chocolate boxes and jigsaw puzzles.Yet, I never saw a dark face among the art. It was easy to assume that Africans only entered European art history during slavery. This misconception is still common today. Africans have appeared in European art for as long as the continents could be reached by walking.Here is a selection of portraits of African women from the last 500 years. Which is your favourite?”

Frederico Bartolini, Portrait of an Arab Woman
Frederico Bartolini, Portrait of an Arab Woman
 Simon Willem Maris, Portrait of a Young Black Woman, Netherlands , 1890s

Simon Willem Maris, Portrait of a Young Black Woman, Netherlands , 1890s
 School of Paolo Veronese, Portrait of a Moorish Woman, Italy , c. 1550s

School of Paolo Veronese, Portrait of a Moorish Woman, Italy , c. 1550s
 Joanna Boyce Wells, Head of a Mulatto Woman (Fanny Eaton)

Joanna Boyce Wells, Head of a Mulatto Woman (Fanny Eaton)
Jean Etienne, 1790
Jean Etienne, 1790

More on Africans in Renaissance Europe at http://www.history.ac.uk/reviews/review/619

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