|Blacks and Jews: Jewish police officers haul away a black man in this anonymous depiction of a Lisbon street scene|
The anonymous 16th-century painter who recorded a scene of everyday life at the king’s fountain (Chafariz d’El Rei) in Lisbon depicted an impressive range of people and animals. In addition to a swan, a seal, fish, horses, dogs and birds, the artist also included more than 150 human figures. There’s so much going on in the busy scene along Lisbon’s port that Joaneath Spicer, the James A. Murnaghan Curator of Renaissance and Baroque Art at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, can be forgiven for initially overlooking an important detail. Only after she had finished working on the exhibition catalog did Spicer notice how many Jews appeared in the work.
The artist depicted at least half a dozen Jewish men — the women’s religious identities are more difficult to discern — including two Jewish policemen hauling away a black man who appears, according to the wall text, to be “drunk and sheepish.” The latter figure and several other Africans explain the painting’s appearance in the exhibit “Revealing the African Presence in Renaissance Europe,” which is at the Walters through January 21. It subsequently travels to the Princeton University Art Museum, where it will be shown from February 16 to June 9. Read full story at Jewish Daily Forward
Below the complete view of the painting "Netherlandish", Chafariz d’el Rey in the Alfama District (View of a Square with the Kings Fountain in Lisbon), ca. 1570-80. The detail which is shown in the picture above is on the left side in the image below.
Slavery in Portugal
A significant difference between African slaves in Renaissance Europe and pre- and post-revolutionary North America is that in Europe, slaves were more likely to be freed. According to wills, testimonies, and other documents from the 16th century, owners of black Africans in Western European countries not only liberated their slaves, but also often helped them establish livelihoods as lawyers, churchmen, schoolteachers, boatmen, authors, artists, and more. Renaissance Lisbon was home to the highest percentage of blacks in Europe at the time, ranging in status from slaves to knights.
This reality is reflected in an unusual painting made by an unknown artist, probably from the Netherlands, of the Lisbon waterfront in the late 16th century, where blacks and whites from a variety of social strata co-exist in a public square. Read more at www.artnews.com