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Article

Edmund Abaka

William Anton Amo (1703–1756), philosopher and educator, was an academic par excellence and a courtier in Germany at a time when there were very few, if any, Africans studying, let alone lecturing, in Europe. He was most likely the first black professor to teach in Germany. Amo’s achievements are all the more significant considering that they occurred about three centuries ago.

Amo was born in 1703 in a small village called Awukenu, near Axim, in the southwestern Gold Coast (now Ghana). The circumstances of Amo’s arrival in the Netherlands are not clear. One version indicates that in 1707 Amo s parents entrusted him to a Brunswick subject working for the Dutch West Indian Company on the Gold Coast By this time the Dutch had superseded the Portuguese and taken over the Portuguese fortified positions on the Gold Coast São Jorge da Mina Elmina São Sebastiao Shama and ...

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Christopher Campbell

London‐born poet, printer, visionary, and ‘prophet against empire’. Over the course of his lifetime Blake confronted the horrors of slavery through his literary and pictorial art. He was able both to counter pro‐slavery propaganda and to complicate typical abolitionist verse and sentiment with a profound and unique exploration of the effects of enslavement and the varied processes of empire.

Blake's poem ‘The Little Black Boy’ from Songs of Innocence (1789 examines the mind forg d manacles of racial constructions in the minds of individuals both in the poem itself in the form of the black child and his white counterpart and also in the minds of those involved in the political dispute over abolition Seeming to explain a desire for racial acceptance and spiritual purity through assimilation into white British society and seeming also to be endorsing conventional assumptions of white racial superiority the poem ...

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Lydia Milagros González García

was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on 23 December 1751 to Tomás de Rivafrecha y Campeche, a painter, decorator, and gilder, and María Jordán y Marqués, a free white woman. Tomás was a black man and former slave who had purchased his freedom from his slaveowner, Cathedral Canon Don Juan de Rivafrecha. It has been assumed that José dispensed with the name Rivafrecha to be rid of the name of his father’s master and to accentuate his birth as a freeman. In historical documents, Campeche, a mulatto, was referred to as a pardo, a designation based on skin color and birth used in the Spanish casta system José s paternal ancestors black slaves have been traced back three generations but little is known of his mother s family except that she probably came from a family of artists and craftspeople from Tenerife in the Canary Islands located ...

Article

Carlos Dalmau

Born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Campeche was the son of a free black father and a Spanish-born mother. Campeche started drawing at an early age, influenced by his father, who was an artisan. He later had contact with the Spanish painter Luis Paret, who was exiled for three years (1775–1778) in Puerto Rico. Paret, a more experienced and formally trained painter, greatly influenced the style of the gifted Campeche.

Campeche is best known for his paintings of religious images and political figures. Among his works we find some of the first artistic representations of blacks in colonial slave society: the Exvoto de la Sagrada Familia (around 1800, Institute of Puerto Rican Culture Collection) and the street scene in Gobernador Ustariz (1789–1792, Institute of Puerto Rican Culture Collection). Another example is the artist's lost Self-Portrait that survives in two copies done by Ramón ...

Article

Matthew Francis Rarey

was likely born into slavery in the captaincy of Bahia, in the Portuguese colony of Brazil. Little is known of his background or family life. By the second half of the eighteenth-century Chagas had emerged as one of the most important sculptors of the Bahian baroque style and one of two influential baroque religious sculptors of African descent, along with Antônio Francisco Lisboa, “O Aleijadinho” (1730 or 1738–1814), a prolific sculptor active in the captaincy of Minas Gerais. In twentieth-century scholarship, Chagas is frequently known by the nickname “O Cabra” (The Goat), a Portuguese colonial term for a person born to one black and one mulata/o parent. However, this appellation for Chagas does not predate its use by art historian Manuel Querino (1911), casting doubt on its historicity in Chagas’s own life.

By about 1750 Chagas had gained his freedom and found work as ...

Article

Maria Elisa Velazquez

was born in 1646 in what is now Mexico City. His father, also named Juan Correa, was a prestigious barber-surgeon of the Holy Inquisition, a native of Mexico City, and the son of a Spaniard and a woman from Cádiz, who was probably mulatta or morisca (a term used for Spanish Muslims who converted to Christianity, presumably by coercion), although to date no documents exist to confirm this. The mother of the younger Juan Correa was Pascuala de Santoyo, a morena libre (free black) who had two extramarital children by an illegitimate union at the time that she married the doctor. Juan the elder and Pascuala had two sons, José, a master gilder, and Juan Correa.

Generally Correa treated religious themes in his art and in many cases his works were copies of European pieces as was the custom at that time Recognized and appreciated by colonial elites in the ...

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Matthew Francis Rarey

was born into slavery in Rio de Janeiro, in the Portuguese colony of Brazil. At the time of Cunha’s birth, his mother, an enslaved woman of African descent, was working for the family of the Januário da Cunha Barbosa, a conêgo (canon priest). Manuel was given the priest’s surname. Cunha showed a talent for painting from an early age and, despite his enslaved status, began to study with João de Sousa (fl. eighteenth century), an established religious painter in colonial Rio. While Cunha was his student, Sousa likely also taught Leandro Joaquim (c. 1738–c. 1798), a mulatto painter also active in Rio. Sousa’s mastery of Brazilian baroque painting and many commissions for the city’s churches and religious orders helped to influence Cunha’s style and likely helped to expand Cunha’s professional connections.

In 1757 likely under Sousa s tutelage Cunha completed his most famous work a half length portrait of ...

Article

Pablo Miguel Sierra Silva

was the renowned architect and leader of the Rosary confraternity (Catholic brotherhood, often organized along caste or ethnic lines) of Valladolid (modern-day Morelia, Mexico). Durán, alias Diego Joaquín Martínez Loera Durán, was born to an Afro-indigenous family that had already achieved some notoriety as his maternal grandfather Lucas Durán had worked as an architect on the Valladolid cathedral along with Francisco Antonio Roa. Diego Durán’s maternal uncle Juan Nepomuceno Durán continued the family’s specialization in architecture, working as a builder and, by 1734, as a “master of architecture.”

Durán s mother was María Nicolasa Durán an indigenous citizen of Valladolid and Esteban Martínez de Loera a free mulatto from Pénjamo At the time Valladolid was the most important urban center of the vast territory formerly controlled by the P urhépecha indigenous group of western Mexico The city s residents maintained a number of sugarcane plantations that employed numerous workers ...

Article

was born in Havana, Cuba, on 15 September 1734. Escalera may have been among the many freemen of African descent in Havana toward the end of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries who had come to dominate the trades in the city, such as blacksmithing, carpentry, painting, and sculpture. Some documents found in the archives of the Havana Cathedral hold Escalera to be an español (a man of Spanish descent) born to parents who were Cuban and Spanish whites. Aside from these few and inconclusive details regarding his racial identity, we know very little about his personal life.

Escalera is the first prolific Cuban colonial painter whom we know by name. He made his career amid commercial growth in the eighteenth-century Atlantic world and within the Spanish Empire, boosted by the reformist agendas of Charles III that followed the Seven Years’ War in 1763 Bureaucratic and military reforms ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

, a survivor of the slave trade, was born somewhere in Africa around 1710. Practically no sources exist on the first six decades of his life. Fortune only emerged in a legal document prepared by his former master Ichabod Richardson in Woburn, Massachusetts, on 30 December 1763. Massachusetts then was a British colony in North America. Richardson declared he “agreed to and with my Negroe man, Amos, that at the end of four years next insuing this date the said Amos shall be Discharged, Freed, and Set at Liberty from my service power & Command for ever.” However, Richardson never signed this statement. When he died in 1768 he made no reference in his will to Fortune s freedom Fortune had worked as a tanner with Richardson and probably used his own skills to make enough money to pay off Richardson s heirs At roughly sixty years of ...

Article

María de Lourdes Ghidoli

of whom, to this day, no works are known of his authorship. Despite this, historians of Argentine art consider him the first painter born in Buenos Aires and have called him the “painter of unknown works,” and thus much speculation exists about his biography.

Gayoso was born in Buenos Aires during the last decades of the eighteenth century. According to his own words, his father was Spanish and his mother was a mulatta. He was a slave of Juan Martín de Pueyrredón, a soldier and Argentine politician, and one of the key figures in the revolutionary period. After the declaration of Argentine independence on 9 July 1816, Pueyrredón was named Supreme Leader of the United Provinces of Río de la Plata, a position he occupied until June 1819 Little is known of the circumstances under which the soldier bought Gayoso but it is known that he paid 300 ...

Article

David Dabydeen

The most prolific painter and engraver of Blacks in 18th‐century British art. They figure in each of his major satirical series, from A Harlot's Progress of 1732 to the Election pictures of the 1750s. They are depicted as prostitutes, lovers, fairground entertainers, strolling actresses, household pets, thieves, and servants, the variety of their occupations suggesting the ubiquity of the black presence in 18th‐century Britain.

The black figure is a detail pregnant with meaning in Hogarth's work, an intricate part of its elaborate narrative structure. Blacks are used to expose the sexual, cultural, and economic corruption of upper‐class life. In pictures like The Four Stages of Cruelty (1750–1 the brutishness of English society is gauged by references to the savage practices of Africans and American Indians Hogarth consciously employs myths about Blacks relating to their sexuality paganism and simian ancestry so as to comment on the morality of the ...

Article

Amy J. Buono

was born in 1677 and lived and worked in Recife, capital of the northeastern captaincy of Pernambuco, Brazil. The locations of Jacomé’s birth and death are unknown, as is his parentage; the oldest archival record to have emerged is his marriage to Páscoa Moreira in 1701 (Menezes, 2010, p. 389). Records from the period alternatively refer to him as “mulato” and “Portuguese,” and scholar José Neilton Pereira (2009) has attributed his surname to Italian ancestry. Historians consider Jacomé (sometimes spelled Jácome) as one of Pernambuco’s most important eighteenth-century architects. The so-called Pernambucan Baroque period of architecture, in which Jacomé worked, was characterized by the great contributions made by Afro-Brazilian artisans.

Jacomé trained under the Portuguese master mason and architect Antônio Fernandes Matos (1640–1701 one of the most significant figures to shape the urban space of seventeenth century Recife According to Pereira Jacomé acquired a ...

Article

Matthew Francis Rarey

was born in Salvador da Bahia, then capital of the Portuguese colony of Brazil, to António Feliciano Borges and Josefa de Santana. A pardo described as forro (freed), Jesus began his artistic career in the third quarter of the eighteenth century, a period of high artistic output for Bahia’s many artists of color, such as Francisco das Chagas (fl. eighteenth century). Early in his life, Jesus began studying with noted Bahian painter José Joaquim da Rocha (1737–1807) and worked as a painter’s assistant and gilder on a number of Rocha’s projects in Salvador.

In 1788 Jesus entered military service with Salvador s Fourth Artillery Regiment Later Rocha paid for Jesus to study painting at the Escola das Belas Artes School of Fine Arts in Lisbon To supplement Rocha s offer Jesus took out a loan from Salvador s Santa Casa de Misericórdia Holy House of Mercy a ...

Article

Amy J. Buono

was born around 1738 in Rio de Janeiro. Historians and critics consider Joaquim to be one of the most important and innovative artists working in late-colonial Rio, largely because of his secular subject matter, colorful palette, and pioneering role in a “native” representation of the Brazilian landscape. Although details of his early life, including his birth date and parentage are obscure, the first clue as to his Afro-descent comes from nineteenth-century historian Cunha Barbosa (Leite, 2010, p. 373). Until his death in his eighties, Joaquim lived and worked in his native Rio. He trained under the artist João de Sousa and was a member of the Fluminense School of painting, the name given to the most prominent group of artists active in Rio de Janeiro during the eighteenth century.

Joaquim s artistic production coincided with a shift of the center of Brazil s economic political and cultural political ...

Article

Antônio Francisco Lisboa, better known by his nickname “Aleijadinho” (the Little Cripple), was born in Villa Rica do Ouro Preto, Minas Gerais, Brazil, where he later distinguished himself as an artist during the baroque and rococo artistic periods. The Minas Gerais variant of the baroque and rococo styles is distinct; unlike the coastal states of Rio de Janeiro and Bahia, whose frequent contact with Portugal kept the art and architecture of those provinces in tune with European artistic developments, Minas Gerias's location in the interior largely insulated it from European influences. Minas Gerais was also a more recently settled province, and it had few convents or monasteries of the regular orders, which would have otherwise encouraged the duplication of European architectural designs.

During the colonial era in Latin America the church was the center of social life and the principal patron of the arts Virtually all of Aleijadinho ...

Article

Mónica Domínguez Torres

who worked in the captaincy of São Paulo, Brazil, in the late colonial period, was born on 25 March 1764 in Santos, São Paulo. Jesuíno Francisco de Paula Gusmão was the illegitimate son of a poor mulatta named Domingas Inácia de Gusmão. Domingas Inácia was a grand niece of Bartolomeu Lourenço de Gusmão (1685–1724), a Brazilian Jesuit priest popularly known as “Padre Voador” (The Flying Priest) because of his scientific work on airship design. Most likely Jesuíno received some religious, musical, and artistic training under the care of the Carmelite friars of his hometown before he moved to the town of Itu in 1781. There he worked as an assistant to the painter José Patrício da Silva Manso (c. 1753–1801), also a mulatto, during the construction of the Igreja Matriz da Nossa Senhora de Candelária (Mother Church of Our Lady of Candlemas).

In 1784 Jesuíno ...

Article

Matthew Francis Rarey

was born into slavery in Santos in the captaincy of São Paulo, in colonial Brazil. During the second half of the eighteenth century, Thebas would gain fame in the city of São Paulo for his innovative stonework and elegant solutions to complex structural problems. The name Thebas (“Thebes”), first recorded on Oliveira’s signature in 1791, is of disputed origin. The historian Nuto Sant’Anna speculates that the name refers to Thebas’s skill and inventiveness, a comparison to Oedipus, king of Thebes, mythological solver of the riddle of the Sphinx.

Thebas was born a slave of the master Portuguese stonemason Bento de Oliveira Lima (fl. eighteenth century), who likely introduced Thebas to stoneworking. Sometime before 1750, Lima, along with his family and slaves, relocated to the city of São Paulo in pursuit of further work opportunities. Soon thereafter, Thebas was receiving commissions on his own: in 1755 he had ...

Article

trained in Europe and active in Rio de Janeiro, who cultivated prominent private, religious, and royal benefactors and patrons, was born in 1763 in Santana de Macacu (today’s Cachoeiras de Macacu), in the rural interior of the Rio de Janeiro captaincy of Brazil. His parentage is obscure, but there is some evidence to suggest that he or a parent had once been enslaved. Although the longevity of his career makes it difficult to ascribe one single style, Oliveira is generally considered to be an important figure in the Escola Fluminense, an informal grouping of artists and artisans—including many freeborn or freedmen of color—active around Rio de Janeiro during the transition from colonial rule to independence in Portuguese America.

Resettled in Rio city elevated to the capital of colonial Brazil the same year as the artist s birth Oliveira worked as a goldsmith and draughtsman With the help of a Portuguese ...

Article

Mauricio Meléndez Obando

was born in Santiago de Guatemala, on 19 November 1677 and baptized in the parish church of Nuestra Señora de los Remedios on 26 December that same year Santiago de Guatemala was an early Spanish community founded in the Panchoy Valley in the vicinity of present day Antigua Guatemala His parents were José de Porres also an architect and Teresa Ventura known as Teresa de Vargas Zapata y Luján An Afro mestizo Diego is listed as a mulatto free mulatto or mestizo His paternal grandparents were Pascuala de la Concepción an Afro mestiza and Juan de Porres Godínez de Porres a Spaniard His maternal grandparents were Dionisia Ventura de la Cruz a mestiza and possibly a Spanish gentleman with the surnames Vargas Zapata y Luján Thus thanks to his grandfathers the architect Porres was a member of families of great economic and political power in the Guatemalan society of ...