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Step OUT: To Examine the Role of Africans in Renaissance Europe

Los tres mulatos de Esmeraldas by Andrés Sánchez Galque, 1599
Los tres mulatos de Esmeraldas by Andrés Sánchez Galque, 1599 -
Renaissance art often conjures up images of the cherub-like, porcelain-skinned ladies in flowy attire or of religious scenes a la "The Last Supper."

But there's a different kind of image portrayed in the latest exhibit at the Walters Art Museum. "Revealing the African Presence in Renaissance Europe" explores the roles black Africans played in Renaissance Europe from the late 1400s to the early 1600s. Paintings, drawings, sculptures and printed books pose questions about the challenges of color, class, and stereotypes that this new diversity brought to Europe. Africans living or visiting Europe at this time included artists, aristocrats, saints, slaves and diplomats.

Running this month through Jan. 21, the collection comes from the Walters, major museums in Europe and the US and private collections. The exhibition will travel to the Princeton University Art Museum in New Jersey Feb. 16–June 9, 2013. Admission is $10 for adults and free for members and kids. Discounts are available for students and seniors. 

On Oct. 28, the museum will hold a free afternoon forum in which scholars will discuss the exhibit's major themes. The lineup includes the following events:

• Unversity of London Professor Kate Lowe will discuss traces of black Africans left in the period's art;
• Johns Hopkins University Vice Dean Ben Vinson III will use casta paintings to elaborate on the representations of blackness in colonial Hispanic culture; and,
• K. Anthony Appiah will lead a discussion on how personal, national and world identity can benefit one another.
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