Friday, 12 September 2008

The Conclusion - ‘not one of us’

To conclude, this investigation set out to answer three questions: what was work’s function; how did its image reach England; how was that  image viewed? On one level there are quite straight forward answers. The work was part of a Devon roodscreen as seen by comparisons with extant roodscreens. The movement of the image of the black Magus across Renaissance Europe is best explained by Burke’s   ‘communicative events’ idea witnessed in twelfth century Holy Roman Empire’s encounter with Islamic Spain, and the Empire’s subsequent cultural, economic and artistic  encounters between Germany, the Netherlands and England. The Adoration image spoke of the relationship between Church and State, Christ and Gentiles. There is however a fundamental paradox here as the only blacks known at the time were stereotypically slaves yet here was the image of a flamboyant, fashionably dressed black Magus/King at the physical and spiritual heart of the church, the epicentre of village life. Perhaps this image was how a definition of whiteness crystallised in Renaissance Europe as white Europe defined itself in terms of a white civilised Aristotelian taxonomy in direct contrast to the black barbarian , who even as king the black was different, exotic, ‘other’ – ‘not one of us’.

3 comments:

barbara said...

Thank you so much for sharing this! wonderful picture shows and a fascinating exploration..

You said: the only blacks known at the time were stereotypically slaves

??? but was this true? when did Othello get written? England was very tied up in sea trade with the rest of the world, especially the mediterranean, so interaction with the 'moors' in Spain and northern Africa would have been familiar at least to seamen. There must have been plenty of black seamen themselves too.. yes always 'the other' but amongst many other 'others' surely?
many best wishes for a very positive response to your essay

barbara said...

Thinking again: saw the rest of your blog.. should have seen it before commenting! I note there were artists of all sorts in UK and an established trend for black Magi already amongst them.. maybe I should just shut up and wait for a chance to read your essay!

Paulo Veronese said...

Hi Barbara
Thanks for feedback. I am holding off posting the complete essay when I receive my result - 12th Dec.
Cheers