Blakely & Westermann Reflection 2

Allison Blakely has studied various Dutch paintings as a work of history that revealed the perspective and envision of the western world toward black throughout the centuries. The picture above is a Dutch painting created around the fifteenth and sixteenth century revolved around religion. It is an early time period in Dutch history, in which the Dutch do not have much contact with the African continent and its people. According to Blakely, many of the early paintings like the one depicted above, portrayed black characters based mostly on their envisions. During this time period, the image of black characters painted is symbolic and many times positive as the black image in the picture. The black images were painted as “renowned [and] handsome”, which revealed the rare but widespread positive interest toward Africa and its people at the time period. (Pg.87, Blakely) However, this positive enthusiasm did not last long as the Dutch empire grew through colonization. In later paintings, the image of blacks started to change into negative symbols and stereotypes.

Mariet Westermann, on the other hand, focused on the artistic authority of the painters. It is the self-expression and ideas expressed through the work of artist that is important. Looking at the picture of The Adoration of the Magi shown above, Westermann would probably conclude that the artist intended to express his adoration of Africa and the Christian religion through the painting, which in some degree converged with the idea of Blakely. The artist not only expressed his idea but also the popular idea at the time. Additionally, the photographic style chosen by the artist may served as a signature to inform the audiences who is the artist.


One thought on “Blakely & Westermann Reflection 2

  1. So, I’m curious about where you think the “positive interest in Africans” might have overlapped with this particular artist’s (Jordaens) sense of artistic authority–how did depicting an African king here serve or reflect his artistic identity? Were there differences in the ways different artists depicted Africans, and if so, does their different artistic practice or visions help explain that? Or is that depiction all culturally determined?


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