The Image of the Black in Western Art. Vol. 4: From the American Revolution to World War I. Pt. 1: Slaves and Liberators; Pt. 2: Black Models and White Myths

Belknap: Harvard Univ. 2012. ea. vol: 384p. ed. by David Bindman & Jr. illus. index. Pt. 1: ISBN 9780674052598; Pt. 2: ISBN 9780674052604. ea. vol: $95. FINE ARTS
OrangeReviewStarThese two volumes of Bindman and Gates's monumental series analyzing the depiction of people of African descent in Western art focus on the era of slavery and emancipation in the United States (and elsewhere), the intensification of Western contact and colonization in Africa, the rise of the scientific and pseudoscientific study of human races, and the emergence of movements that pushed for black empowerment. Some of the works of art reproduced in these volumes are by famous artists, such as Charles Willson Peale and Francisco Goya, and many are well-known images—including portraits of the likes of George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and Abraham Lincoln, as well as literary characters such as Uncle Tom and Little Eva—and iconic paintings, for example, Delacroix's Raft of the Medusa. The text, while scholarly, dense, and detailed, is not pedantic; it can be easily understood by general readers. As a result, these volumes will appeal to a wider audience than most of the earlier titles in the series as the subject matter should be more familiar and relatable to most readers.
VERDICT These two volumes, like the rest of the series, will long prove to be definitive resources in understanding how racial attitudes have evolved in the Western world.
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