TheOrator.Press TV Review: The Black Italian Renaissance ~ November 2022

Sky Arts TV ~ Monday November 29 2022 ~ 8.oo pm ~ 9.30 pm

Much Renaissance Art Reflects Centuries of Malignment or Misrepresentation of Black People Which Is Still In Operation Today. And It Highlights The Need For Inclusion And Diversity In Art And In Art History. From The Time of Early Medici To Meghan Markle And Leanne Pinnock’s Power Documentary On Her Life In Pop Group Little Mix Besmearchment And White-Washing Has Existed For Centuries

Black Italian Renaissance Art Experts Paint A Picture of Discriminaton, Exclusion, & Marginalisation Centuries Old

On Monday Night, November 21st 2022, 8pm – 9.30, Sky Arts Broadcast One of The Most Powerful And Important Art History Shows In The History of Art History Shows. The Documentary Detailed And Discussed Numerous Works of Art By Various Different Artists Featuring Various Different Black People Depicted During The Time of The Italian Renaissance.

The Documentary, Produced By Italian Media Company Tiwi, Especially For Sky Arts Television, The Sumptuous Free TV Channel For The Arts, Dedicated To The Nation By Sky During The Lockdown In September 2020 (Sky Channel 130), To Help Keep Us Occupied, Was Bold, Black-Centric And Beautiful. And It Was As Heartbreaking As It Was Insightful. Ultimately It Is Now An Important Educational Resource For Black And White People Alike, As Well As Artists, Historians And Humanitarians.

A Collection of Experts Including Art Experts, Art Historians, Lecturers, Writers And Social Commentators Such As:

Cecile Fremont

Professor Kate Lowe

Dr. Angelica Pesarini

Academic Fellow & Journalist, Igiaba Scego

Justin Randolph Thompson –

John  K. Brackett

Jonathan K. Nelson

Also By Reaktion Books: Black Metaphors: How Modern Racism Emerged from Medieval Race-Thinking. Cord J. Whitaker. The Middle Ages Series. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2019

Matteo Salvatore Who All Discuss The Presence or The Lack of A Presence of Black People In Renaissance Art In Details With Depth And Respect. This Wonderfully Unique Renaissance Art Documentary Details How A Range of Black People, Particularly From Africa, From The Moors, Enslaved Africans, To Freed Men And Woman, To Nobility, And Kings And Were Painted And Represented or Misrepresented By Various Artists of The Day.

And Yet Many Were Ignored In Plain Sight, or Denigrated, Disrespected, Dismissed, Devalued or Defamed By Constructed, False, And Negative Narratives. The Programme Analytically Concludes That Such Malignment of Black People Dates Back Centuries And Is Still Going On In The Present Day.

Sadly We Can See This To Be All Too True. All Too Often. Consider The Nasty, Wicked And Unnatural Narratives Constructed Around Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex For Instance. And Compare Them To The Saccharine Soaked Narratives Constructed Around Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge And Princess of Wales.

In Addition To Being Subjected To Malignment Black People Were Also Subjected To White-Washing Even Back Then. This Too Is Something We Still See Happening Today. Especially In The Music Industry As So Powerfully Articulated By Leanne Pinnock In Her Brave Documentary Detailing The Racism Suffered As The Only Black Member of The Pop Group Little Mix. In It She Describes How Both Fans And Music Industry Executives And Personnel Treated Her In A Discriminatory Way Compared To Her White Band Mates.

A New Academic Collective Is However Suggesting Strong Solutions As More People Join Together With Social Activism And Self-Help.

Racism & Colourism Rampant Throughout The Arts

This Magnificent Art Programme Explains (Angelica Pesarini) How Artists of The Day “Had To Keep A Certain Balance Between Promoting A Certain Ideal And Keeping The Subject [of The Painting] Recognizable”. That Is To Say That Whilst A Picture May Be Painted of Black People Being Accepted Into Society, That Acceptance Is Based On Certain Conditions Which Essentially Rely On The Maintenace of The Status Quo. And In Effect That Meant White People In High Positions And Black People In Low. They Were Slaves, Exotic Play Things To Be Pawed And Petted At Will. Or Put To Work To Fetch And Carry, Cook And Clean or Build. But Such A Reality Could Not Be Made Blatanty In Polite Society.

He Explains “Sometimes Art Reflects A Real Reality And Sometimes It Creates A Fake Image of Reality”. He Points Out How Black People, Particularly Slave Women, Are Often Painted As Being On The Margins. “They Were Never Seen. Never Noticed. Never Mentioned”.

Kate Lowe Too Acknowledges This Saying That They Were Considered “Uninteresting And Unimportant”.

This Is Ironic Considering That Were Constantly Being Interfered With And Sexually Abused By White Slave Masters, Who On One Hand Found Them Sexually Appealing And Exotic. Brackett States “It Was The Practice of Aristocratic Homes To Have Sex With Servants”.

Cecile Fremont Also Talks of Stereotyping In The Form of “Exertism” As She Reviews A Painting of A Black Person Wearing Feathers, And Earrings. Yet Nude. She Says Putting It Politely “Europeans Had A Paradoxical Image of Africa”.

He Also Acknowledges Portugal’s Prominent Place In Slaver History As He Explains A Significant Number of The Enslaved Black People In Florence Arrived There Via Portugal As The Portuguese Were “Merchants of Slaves”.

Similarly Kate Lowe Outlines That The Gambinis And Other Italian Families Had “A Big Presence In Lisbon” (Portugal’s Capital).

Alessandro Di Medici of The Famous Medici Family Reportedly Fathered A Mixed Race Child Who Is Featured In One Many Paintings Shown In The Documentary. The Child’s Mother Was Reportedly A Black Enslaved Woman. More often Than Not Such Liaisons Were Denied And Children Born As A Result of Them Were Treated As Slaves Like An Other.

But This Medici Story of Master And Servant Was Different. Alessandro (Son of Lorenzo) Lost His Father When He Was Still A Child. So Maybe This Is Why He Did Not Deny His Own Son – Notwithstanding Said Son Was Half Italian And Half African, And Born In A Time of Extreme Racial Prejudice, Fear, Ignorance And Legal Enslavement. He Was Officially Acknowledged. And As Kate Lowe Put It, At This Time In History And In Italy, “Status Matters. Status Matters More Than Anything Else.” This Son Was A Member of The Medici Family.

In Florence Records of An Ancient Children’s Hospital (Ospidale) Coincide With The Arrival of African Female Slaves In The Italian Renaissance City. The Story Is Officially Documented.

Amazingly Records Also Detail The First Documented Black Couple To Leave Their Child At The Children’s Hospital.

Cecile Fromont Speaks Highly of The African Gift For Craftmanship Which Became Known As Africans, Pilgrims And Ambassadors Came To Florence. She States “Africa Could Be A Source of Slaves But Also Marvels of Craftmanship”.

Eight Paintings of Particular Poignance

Eight Paintings And The Tales Associated With Them Caught Our Eyes And Ears In Particular. And There Were Many To Chose From. We Urge You To Take A Look At Them As This Documentary Is Awesome.

(I) The Black Knight ~ Panasco

Firstly Is The Black Knight Within The Order of Santiago, Under The Reign King John III of Portugal. His Name Was Joao de Sa Panasco (Pictured At The Top of The Beginning of This Feature Article And Here. He Is Travelling Through A Very Busy Square At The Front of This Famous Busy Painting, On The Right, In 16th Century Lisbon, Portugal). The Painting Is Called The King’s Fountain ~ Chafariz d’El-Rey. The Artist Is Anonymous.

However What Is Known Is That Joao de Sa Panasco Lived And Died c 1524 – 1567. And The Painting Is Said To Have Been “Discovered” c 1570-1580.

What Is Also Interesting Is That The Painting Also Includes A Number of Black People In Different States of Social Reality. And All Around For Everyone There Is So Much Going On. The King’s Fountain Is Awash With Action.

Joao (John) Was In Fact A Court Jester Who Was Given One of The Highest Orders of The Palace of Portugal. So Good Was He At His Jester Duties He Had Built Up A Special Relationship With The King. But Racism And Sorrow Preceded His Death From Alcoholism. Jokes By Him As Court Jester Are Documented In The History Books. However, Sadly, Yet Importantly, So Too Are Jokes Told At His Expense. And They Took Their Toll. Fatally!

Racism Is Not New. And Neither Is The Trauma Experienced By Black People As A Result of It. It’s Been Going on For Centuries. Hundreds And Hundreds of Years. And Whilst Even Royalty May Embrace Diversity. That Does Not Always Deter The Racists (Sound Familiar?). As Kate Lowe Observes, Sometimes “Sad People Do Take To The Bottle”.

(II)The African Woman With A Clock

Secondly, Is The Painting “African Woman Holding A Clock.

Igiaba Secgo, Describes Her As “A Woman In Service And of Service”.

This Painting Has A Timeless Beauty And Is Part of A Captivating Story, With A Captivating Black Woman Right At The Centre of It.

Interestingly There Is The Intrigue of Another Female On The Margins of This Painting. But  Her Face Is Not Revealed, Only The Subtle Suggestion of Her Arm. And Thus Cannot Definitively Identify Who She Is From The Painting Alone. One Has To Engage One’s Imagination. Is She A Fellow Woman of Service or The Lady of The House For Instance?

The Painting Is Said To Be Circa 1585 And By Annibale Carracci (Bologna 1560 – 1609 Rome). In 2017 The Tomasso Brothers (Dino & Raffelo) Announced To The World That Had “Rediscovered” The Work.

(III) Saga Krestos

The Third Painting Is That of “Sagga Krestos” By Female Italian Artist Giovanna Garzoni. Indeed “Sagga Krestos” Is Said To Have Arrived In Italy, Originally From Ethiopia And Declared Himself A Chosen One And A Descendant of The Ethiopian Throne.

He Was Reportedly Chosen To Spread Catholicism In Ethiopia.

He Was Hosted By Various Italian Families And Members of Nobility. Including The Duke of Savoy, In Turin In 1635. (He Lived c 1610 – 1638). His Artist Giovanna Garzoni, Lived 1600–1670. She Was Reportedly A Nun And Two Later Fell In Love.

And Yet He Was Later To Be Systematically Discredited Having Had The Equivalent of  His Autobiography Transcribed. His Is Said To Be The First Officially Recognised Black Autobiography.

It Was Claimed His Story Did Not Add Up Chronologically. And Despite A Lack of Documentary Evidence Disproving His Story He Was Disparaged Because He Was Ultimately Considered An Outsider In Italy.

He Was Assigned A Negative Narrative And Negative Characteristics. These Included Stereotypes Such As Unreliability, “Uncontrollability”, And Rampant Sexuality.

The Acclaimed Female Artist (Unusual At The Time), Giovanna Garzoni, Had Moved Italian Renaissance Representation of A Black Man, From The Margins of A Painting And Placed Him Centre Stage. Looking Grand. And Some Amongst The So Called Great And The Good of High Society Did Not Like That. As Long Ago As That, There Were Preconceived Negative Narratives Nastily Imposed Upon People Who Were Black.

(IV) The Black Page Girl ~ With Laura Dianti

The Fourth Painting Depicts An Aristocratic Woman, Laura Dianti, Central To A Painting With Her Hand On Top of The Shoulder of A Very Young Black Page Girl, Who Is On The Margins of The Painting. Another Way Dianti Is Demonstrating Her Power And Wealth Is By The Abundance of Vibrant Rich Blue Coloured Fabric Which Only The At This Time. This Is A Painting By The Famous Artist Titian Circa 1520 ~ 1525

The Question From Expert Justin R Thompson Ever More Poignant – “Who Decides What Is Relevant In History?” He Says “Society Is Affecting Art And Art Is Affecting Society”.

This Is Something Which Can Still Been Seen Happening In Some Negative, Destructive And Discriminatory Mainstream Media, Headlines And Imagery Today.

(V) The Adoration of The Magi

This Famous Painting ‘The Adoration of The Magi’ By Augustin Henckle of Swizterland Circa 1520 Perfectly Illustrates How The Painting of The Three Kings Sees The Black King Totally Erased or Marginalized.

The Man In The Middle Appears To Have Laid Down His Satchel From Travel As Well As His Refreshment Bottle. All Three Men Are Depicted As White And The True Black King Has Been Totally Erased. A Marginalised Black Is Depicted Instead. Albeit He Is Notably Well Dressed. It’s Almost As If Like A Guilty Exchange. There Is An Acknowledgment That A Black Man Was Present But He Must Be Depicted As Lower Than His True Status.

(VI) The Black Man Who Commissioned A Painting of The Coronation of The Virgin Mary

The Sixth Painting Chosen From The Time of The Black Italian Rennaissance Features The Story of A Black Man Who Reportedly Commissioned A Painting of “The Coronation of The Virgin Mary”. This Famous Picture of A Moor Is Proof Positive That Black Men of Grandeur Did Exist Despite Repeated Efforts To Erase or Mimimalise Them. The Man Who Commissioned The Madonna’s Coronation And Him Are Two Different Men. This Man Is Said To Having Been Painted By Jan Mostaert Circa 1525 -30. He Entitled The Work ‘A Portrait of An African Man’.

It Is Reported That Sometimes, Similar To An Artist Signing Their Work With A Signature In The Corner, It Was Also Practice To Paint In An Image of The Person Who Commissioned A Painting In The Bottom Right Hand Corner In Order To Afford Them Due Recognition.

In The Painting Chosen To Illustrate This Point A Black Man Is Painted Into The Relevant Position And He Appears To Be Looking up To The Heavens.

J.K. Nelson Comments That This Painting of The Coronation  of The Virgin Mary Could Be The First Painting Commissioned By A Black Man.

Kate Lowe Agrees, Commenting That He Is Definitely “ A Donor”. However She Says,  “But Because He’s Black, People Endeavour To Deny It.”

He Is Believed To Be Related To The Court of The Black Magi (One of The Three Wise Men Said To Be An Ambassador of Ethiopia).

Yet All Three of The Magi Were Often Painted As White And Their Servants Were Painted As Black. This Was A Blatant Act of White-Washing And Erasure Within The Art World.

In Northern Europe Representation of The Three Kings Who Went To Visit The New Born King Included A Black Nobleman But In Western Europe It Took A Long Time To Get That Recognition.

When One Considers That The Western European Image of Jesus Is A Man With Blonde Hair And Blue Eyes, Despite That The Fact That He Is From The Middle East, One Can See The Lasting Effects of Such Manipulation of Imagery. And How It Is Still In Play Today.

(VII) The Wedding Feast In Cana

The Seventh Painting We Find Ourselves Drawn To Is “The Wedding Feast In Cana”. This Painting Reflects The Famous Biblical Story of Jesus Turning Water In To Wine At A Wedding Celebartion. ‘Nozze Di Cana’ By Paolo Veronese Circa 1562–1563

It Is So Powerful And Poignant Because Finally, Renaissance Art Is Finally Representing To The WorldA Black Person Literally Having A Seat At The Table. But Can You Spot Him? He Is More Readily Visible In Close Up Extracts of The Painting. But There Is So Much Going On Here That It Is Worth Having A Good I

This Finely Dressed African Is Portrayed As A Nobleman Amongst Fellow Nobility, Engaged In Conversation. A Critic of The Age However Reportedly Dismissed The Painting As Being of “Buffoons And Black People”. (“Buffoon” Was An Alternative Name For Court Jester). Those Seeking To Diminish Black Greatness Are Not Original.

(VIII) The Tudor Trumpeter

The Eighth Painting Selected From This History of Art Programme Is That of A Tudor Trumpeter  Artistically Documented To Have Served In The Court of King Henry VIII. And Also In The Court of His Father King Henry VII Before Him. Notably From The Age of A Child. He Is First Officially On Record From 1507. This Could Be Evidence of The Fact That He Was Born Into Slavery As The Offspring of Enslaved Parents or Simply Stolen Away.

He Has Been The Subject of A Number of Previous Documentary Observations Including By Professor David Olusoga In His Excellent 2016 BBC History Series Black And British: A Forgotten History (Available On BBC iPlayer). Olusoga’s Representation of John Blanke Is A Rather Romantized One, Also Told By Other Historians. The Story Suggests That He Had The Bravery To Petition King Henry VIII For A Pay Rise, And It Was Happily And Readily Granted To Him (This, Notwithstanding It Was The Age of Prolific Torture, The Tower And Rack And Ruin).

It Is Also A Time, As The Professor Makes Clear Himself, When England Is Not As Rich As It Previously After King Henry’s Reformation Which Sees England’s Disassociation From The Vatican, And The Movement Away From Catholicism To Protestants. So In Response England Goes Plundering Other Lands. This Includes The Plunder, Rape, And Enslavement of Thousands of Africans. Thus This Was Hardly A Time of Labour Empowerment For Black People. So It Is A Little Hard To Believe. Especially If One Compares The Strikes Currently Prevalent Today Due To Low Pay And Poor Working Conditions And The Government’s Response.

However A Different Version of The Story Does Acknowledge That John Blanke Was Being Discriminated Against As He Was Only Being Paid 8d A Performance Where As Others Were Being Paid 16. Twice As Much! It This Story Rather Less Romantically Says That John Sought To Step Into The Dead Man’s Shoes of Another Trumpeter Who Had Recently Died And Had Been Paid 16d A Performance At The Time. He Was White. Apparently This Is How He Got His Pay Rise.

King Henry VIII Lived & Died 28 June 1491 –  28 January 1547. He Expired Over-Weight, Infected And Smelling From An Unhealed Jousting Injury, Grumpy, Miserable And Without The Male Heir He Wanted So Much, Aged 56. The Records Show That Aged Just 20 He Had Held A Celebratory Jousting  Tournament February 12 And 13 1511 To Celebrate The Birth His Son Henry, Approximately 6 Weeks Earlier On New Year’s Day, To His Wife Catherine of Aragon. (Sadly Baby Henry Died Just Days After The Celebrations).

In A Scroll Documenting The Celebratory Event (The Westminster Roll) One of The Trumpeters Is Painted As The Only Black Man There. And He Is Painted Differently At The End of The Event To How He Started At The Beginning of It. With White Hands. Maybe This Is A Coded Illustration of The Story That He Had Stepped Into A Dead Man’s Shoes (As The Saying Goes) And The Suddenly Deceased Man Was White.

He Reportedly Married A Year Later In February 1512. But There Exists No Known Confirmation Who His Wife Is And At This Point He Disappears From Public Record. Except To Say It Is Said That The King Bestowed Upon The Couple A Wedding Gift of A Fine Hat And Scarf For The New Husband And Wife. Interesting Story. Ultimately He Apparently Asked For A Payrise. Apparently Was Granted One. And Then Disappeared!

But Neither Account Is As Saccharine Soaked As The Representation of Him In BBC Primary School Education Series Aimed At 7 – 11 Years ‘Primary History, Black History, And Black Britons’ Aired In Black History Month 2011. This Portrayal Is Particularly Egregious Because In It His Character Acknowledges The Racism He Was Subjected To And Yet Is Made To Appear Dim Witted, Docile And Happy With His Lot. This Is of Course At Odds With Olusoga’s Account Which Indicates He Was Unhappy And In Need of A Pay Rise And Apparently Found The Courage To Demand One.

Either Way, Like Joao de Sa Panasco, The Former Jester, Promoted To Knighthood, He Was Subjected To Cruel Racism. He Was A Black Man But Courtiers Called Him John Blanke. John White. It Brings Jurrassic Comedian Jim Davidson And His Character Chalky To Mind.

Changing The Narrative

Professor David Olusoga ~ Youth Historians Project ~ The Black Curriculum

Professor Hakim Adi

History And Recent Events Prove That A Variety of Different Voices Need To Be Heard In History And Herstory As We Now Know How Black People Are Treated When They Are Left Isolated In Big Insititutions

So Again The Question Arises Who Decides What Historical, Her-storical or Indeed Hysterical Stories Are Told. And In Turn Who Gets To Decide How, As  “Society Is Affecting Art And Art Is Affecting Society”.

One of The Most Uplifting, Memorable, Joyful Moments of Harry And Meghan’s Wedding Was The Wonderment On The Face of The Young Boys Tending To The Bride’s Wedding Dress Train. It Is A Wonderful Illustration of How Royal Protocols From Centuries Ago Have Survived And Remain In Practice or Poignant Today.

Indeed Many Commented That One of The Most Poignant Moments of The Coverage of The Queen’s Funeral (On Monday September 19 2022) Was The Sound And Image of Her Own Personal Piper Walking Away And Fading Into The Background At The End of The Service At Windsor Castle. This Was Especially So As He Used To Wake Her Up Every Morning By Playing The Same Instrument. That Particular Era Is Over Now.

Re-Dressing The Blatant Brutality & Royal Reality of “Recollections May Vary!”

This Documentary Is Important As It Is Very Educational, Insightful And Presented By Academic Experts, Supported By Evidence, Rather Than Mere Supposition. As Suct It Highlights How Centuries of Racial Discrimination Are Still Relevant And In Play Today.

In Turn It Highlights The Importance of Diversity And Inclusion. And Again, It Powerfully Puts In The Spotlight The All Powerful Question Who Decides What His-torical, Her-storical or Indeed Hys-terical Stories Are Told?

And Indeed How They Are Told. And By Whom. And In Turn Who Gets To Decide How, As Expert Justin R Thompson Puts It,  “Society Is Affecting Art And Art Is Affecting Society”.

After All, As Indeed The Late Queen’s Courtiers Infamously Said In Their Obvious, Curt And Cold Legalese  And The Queen Signed Off On, After Harry And Meghan Gave Their Version of Why They Felt The Need To Leave The Royal System, Amidst Claims of Bullying And Racism:  “Recollections May Vary”. And If Indeed That Is So, Then Let That Official Royal Response Serve As A Shining Example of The Need To Embrace Diversity, Equality, And Inclusion In Society. Including In The Art World. So All Our Voices May Be More Readily Heard!

Professor Olusoga Recently Hosted A Questions And Answer Session At The British Library On Friday November Fourth At Which He Spoke of The Lack of Black Historians In Britain. The Event Marked The Launch of A New Book By Professor Hakim Adi About The History of Black People In Britain (Which Begins Way Before Windrush). At The Event The Professor Announced A New Academic Project Called The Young Black Historians Project Endeavouring To Counter That (See Links Directly Above).

TheOrator.Press TV Review: The Italian Black Renaissance. Sky Arts, Nov29th 2022. Now TV  Is The Catch Up And On Demand Service For Sky.Arts

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