Peeling Back the Veil on Black Women in European Renaissance Paintings

For ages, the Black women illustrated in European Renaissance paintings have been left to the margins. Curator, and University of Texas student, Jaelynn Walls turns a critical eye to the paintings which bring Black women front and center.

Titian, Diana and Actaeon, 1556-59. Courtesy of the National Galleries of Scotland.

European Renaissance paintings are often lauded for their depictions of beauty, texture, and color. However, very few scholars have acknowledged the Black Women who are often relegated to the margins of these paintings. Instead, they have often languished as "exotic" and "unknowable" subjects amidst adorned and exalted white bodies. Dive into Walls' article on Artsy!

"These works serve to perpetuate the inaptness of the Black female body for nudity, vouch for its ugliness, and dismiss it in aesthetic conversations, then and now. Much more than a visual rendering of a mythological tale, Titian’s "Diana and Actaeon" served to perpetuate a European Renaissance fantasy of what was visually interesting and societally accepted as beautiful at the time."