Art as a Fugitive Practice
Scipio Moorhead, Phillis Wheatley, 1773











Raft of the Medusa
Jacques-Louis David, Oath of the Horatii, 1784 - 1785.
Theodore Gericault, Raft of the Medusa, 1818 - 1819.











Transatlantic Slave Trade
1440 - 1883
  • 8 million people enslaved in Africa and boarded ships
  • "The earliest record of a black presence in America dates to 1526, when a group of African captives was brought from Hispaniola (present-day Haiti and the Dominican Republic) to coastal South Carolina or to Georgia's Sapelo Sound" (Farrington, 15).
  • About 20 Ndongans landed at Jamestown in 1619
  • In 1619 alone, 36 ships full of captives set out across the Atlantic
  • No less than 12.5 million Africans were displaced to North and South America
  • Over 2 million of those who boarded ships died before seeing land again
Faith Ringgold, We Came to America, 1997











Tom Feelings, from The Middle Passage, 1995











Romare Bearden, Roots Odyssey, 1976











John T. Biggers, The Contribution of Negro Women in American Life and Education, 1953.
Oil on plaster, Houston, TX.











Augustus Washington, John Brown, c. 1846 - 1847


W. E. B. Du Bois, John Brown, 1909











Civil War
1861 - 1865
  • Conflict between northern & southern states
  • Involved numerous disputes, although most of them centered on the issue of slavery
  • At least 623,000 killed in the war
    • About 1.2 soldiers have died in U.S. conflicts all together, with 644,000 in conflicts other than the Civil War
Black private in Union Army, Fort Benton, MO, no date.












William Wetmore Story, Cleopatra, 1869
Edmonia Lewis, The Death of Cleopatra, 1876











David Drake "Dave the Potter" for Lewis Miles Pottery, Storage Jar, c. 1860.
Thomas Day, Bedstead, 1853
Inscribed "When you fill this jar with pork or beef / Scot will be there to get a piece - Dave" Edgefield County, South Carolina.











Edmonia Lewis, Forever Free, 1867

Edmonia Lewis, Hygeia, 1872











Meta Warric Fuller, Emancipation Proclamation, 1913. Harriet Tubman Park, Boston, MA.











The Image of the Black in Western Art

Dominique de Menil began a research project and photo archive called The Image of the Black in Western Art in the 1960s.

  • Now located at the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard, the archive has more than 26,000 images of black people in Western art
Black in Western Art video











"It is something of a shock to discover that since classical antiquity, men and women of African descent have been a constant presence in European works of art. Just as startling, black people have often been depicted much more sympathetically than the historical relationship between sub-Saharan Africa and Europe would suggest" (Henry Louis Gates Jr.,

  • Now located at the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard, the archive has more than 26,000 images of black people in Western art
Balthazar: A Black African King in Medieval and Renaissance Art
St. Maurice, 1240, Magdeburg Cathedral in Germany










Artist unknown, The Magi Approaching Herod, from an illustrated Life of Christ with devotional supplements (text in Latin and English), East Anglia (possibly Norfolk), England, about 1190 – 1200 and about 1480 – 1490.

Artist unknown, Initial Q: A Woman with Bread Loaves; Initial S: The Baptism of a Muslim, from Feudal Customs of Aragon (text in Navarro-Aragonese), Huesca, Spain, about 1290 – 1310; author, Vidal de Canellas.











Andrea Mantengna, Detail of the ceiling of the Camera degli Sposi, 1465 - 1474.

Andrea Mantegna, The Adoration of the Magi, Mantua, Italy, c. 1495 – 1505, distemper on linen.











Garden of Earthly Delights

Hieronymus Bosch, Garden of Earthly Delights, c. 1505 - 1515.











Feast in the House of Levi

Veronese, Feast in the House of Levi, 1573. Oil on canvas approx, 18' 6" X 42' 6".











Annibale Caracci, Portrait of an Enslaved Woman, 1580

Jacob Jordaens, Moses and his Ethiopian wife Sephora, c. 1650











John Trumbull, The Death of General Warren at the Battle of Bunker’s Hill, June 17, 1775, 1786.











Portrait of a Negresse

Marie-Guillemine Benoist, Portrait of a Negrese, 1800.
Slavery was outlawed in France in 1794. Benoist's piece became a symbol for equality, albeit problematic.











Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Odalisque with a Slave, 1839 - 1840.
Eugene Delacroix, Women of Algiers, 1834.











The Slave Ship

Joseph Mallard William Turner, The Slave Ship, 1840.