Teaching Race in the Global Renaissance Using Local Art Collections

Lisandra Estevez

[print edition page number: 425]
This case study[1] focuses on three paintings currently on view in North Carolina museum collections that I integrate into teaching one of my art history surveys, Art 2302 (Art History II), which encompasses Renaissance to contemporary art.[2] They include A Man Scraping Chocolate (c. 1680–1780, oil on canvas, Raleigh, North Carolina Museum of Art, figure 1), Saint Martín de Porres (c. 1750–1775, oil on cloth, The Mint Museum, Charlotte, North Carolina, figure 2), and The Defense of the Sacrament (or Defense of the Eucharist) (c. 1750–1775, oil on cloth, The Mint Museum, Charlotte, North Carolina, figure 3). These images significantly enrich my teaching of Iberian and Latin American art to students at Winston-Salem State University (WSSU), an HBCU (or historically Black college or university) within the University of North Carolina system.[3] Discussions of race and periodization become especially relevant when teaching undergraduates at WSSU about the Renaissance and Baroque eras (1400–1800) in art history.[4] In addition, active and engaged discussions about diversity in the visual arts constitute a high-impact practice in the classroom that becomes especially meaningful in thinking about histories that, until recently, have not been widely represented in Renaissance and Baroque art history and visual culture.[5] [429]


Painting of a Black man rolling out dough.
Figure 1. A Man Scraping Chocolate (c. 1680–1780, oil on canvas, Raleigh, North Carolina Museum of Art
Painting of a saint holding a broom. Behind him a dog, cat, and a rat eat food on the floor.
Figure 2. Saint Martín de Porres (c. 1750–1775, oil on cloth, The Mint Museum, Charlotte, North Carolina.
Oil painting depicting white men defending the Eucharist from a group of Turks.
Figure 3. The Defense of the Sacrament (or Defense of the Eucharist) (c. 1750–1775, oil on cloth, The Mint Museum, Charlotte, North Carolina.

As an instructor, one often asks: what does the inclusion of this material in visual studies courses tangibly mean in pedagogical practices and curricular cohesion? Instilling these works of art into an art history survey expands the globalized aspects of its content and responds to my university’s curriculum that centers on overarching equity and social justice issues. In studying racial or racialized imagery, students can visualize “difficult differences” that originate in the pre-modern world, especially regarding the construct of the “other” in Renaissance and Baroque art history.[6] These case studies thus address questions of identity and race and how they relate to other paradigms such as class, nation, and faith in the visual arts of Spain and Latin America during the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries.

Closely reading these three works of art elicits questions that allow students to weigh the value of regional collections in broader, global presentations of race and identity in Renaissance and Baroque Iberian and Latin American art. Part of analyzing these pictures involves “slow looking”: taking the time in class to parse these paintings carefully for their content, representation, and context. Engaging students in this process helps [430] them to look closely at these artworks (albeit in projection using power-point presentations) and ask specific questions about them.[7] Moreover, these three paintings (figures 1–3) help students 1) to interrogate notions of otherness that informed early modern constructs of African diasporic identity and 2) to provide points of historical reference for how modern and contemporary African American artists such as John Biggers, Kehinde Wiley, Amy Sherald, and others will confront and challenge notions of culture, identity, and race.

This case study provides close readings of the paintings and includes instructive comparisons to guide students in thinking about how these global objects from North Carolina collections relate to others in national and international art collections. Class discussions address how the A Man Scraping Chocolate, Saint Martín de Porres, and the Defense of the Eucharist (figures 1–3) ended up in these regional collections and what it means for these works to be in these specific museums in the U.S. South.[8]

We begin with a thought-provoking work, which is the North Carolina Museum of Art’s A Man Scraping Chocolate (figure 1). This painting represents an African laborer grinding chocolate on a metate, a Mesoamerican grinding stone traditionally used for processing maize. This distinct canvas introduces students to a complex transcultural nexus that joins the cultures of Africa, Europe, and the Americas vis-à-vis the globalized culture of chocolate and the African labor that sustained it.[9]

In a distinct turn, the Mint Museum’s Saint Martín de Porres (figure 2) offers a different perspective on representations of Africans in colonial Latin America. Martín, who was of biracial ancestry, both African and Spanish, became Peru’s patron saint associated with social justice and [431] racial harmony.[10] This image allows students to see how Andean painters depicted the sanctity and spirituality of Afro-descended saints.

In considering cross-cultural connections among these artworks, the dynamics of politics, power, and exclusion often come into play. For example, the Mint Museum’s Peruvian Defense of the Eucharist (figure 3) depicts a Spanish king protecting a radiant monstrance while, stereotypically, exoticized Turks try to topple it. A close reading of this painting helps students comprehend the exertion of European social control over other non-European peoples as part of a mentality of conquest carried over from medieval Spain into colonial Latin America. Furthermore, this idiosyncratic iconography creates correspondences between the Muslims in Spain and indigenous peoples in the Americas that demonstrate the transfer of racialized concepts such as anti-Muslim animus, or Islamophobia, from Europe to the New World. The comparisons between these different examples can help students to comprehend the implications of the racial “othering” of individuals and communities of other faiths and nations in the early modern period and the persistence of this othering today.[11]

When taken together, these paintings generate class discussions that challenge and complicate the students’ perspectives on race and culture in the global Renaissance using works of art found in local art collections. Class discussions allow students to compare these paintings to other examples in the respective histories of early modern Iberian and Latin American art with specific reference to sixteenth- and seventeenth-century artists such as Luis de Vargas, Andrés Sánchez Gallque, and Diego Velázquez.

From a pedagogical standpoint, discussing these pictures also develops in-depth critical thinking skills that help students to move beyond a comparative model of art history that consists of “compare and contrast.” [432] Instead, looking at the paintings from different cultural, political, and socio-economic contexts helps students understand a more expansive paradigm. In analyzing these images critically, students learn to challenge, complicate, or even contradict their views of racial otherness and ask relevant questions: Who is an “other”? By whose biases, judgments, or standards? How? Why?

Useful Resources for Course Readings

Before I turn to the individual case studies I mentioned, a brief overview of the study of the African presence and contribution to Renaissance and Baroque art history is necessary. Groundbreaking publications authored by American and European art historians Carmen Fracchia, Joaneath Spicer, Victor Stoichita, and Tanya Tiffany have profoundly reshaped this field within Renaissance studies.[12] Both Grace Harpster and Erin Kathleen Rowe have also compellingly written how colorism affected perceptions of sanctity and spirituality in early modern Spanish visual culture.[13] On a broader scale, the landmark The Image of the Black in the Western Art series has specific volumes dedicated to representing Africans in early [433] modern European art.[14] These particular publications are highlighted because they are written in English and accessible to students. Students who are Spanish speaking should seek out publications by Aurelia Martín Casares and Luis Méndez Rodríguez.[15]

Case Studies of Paintings in North Carolina Collections

A Man Scraping Chocolate

Painted by an anonymous artist sometime between the late-seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, A Man Scraping Chocolate (figure 1) represents a young man of African ancestry who kneels on the ground as he processes a large block of chocolate. His eyes engage directly with the viewer, and his lips parted to suggest a smile as he rolls the chocolate on a metate, a Mesoamerican stone tool used in Mexico and Central America for milling corn. A small brazier underneath the metate softens the chocolate so it can be processed more quickly. Grinding cacao into chocolate in this traditional fashion required much physical exertion. Nevertheless, this process had an alluring quality for the viewer, as extolled in verses by the Spanish writer Marcos Antonio Orellana (1731–1813): “Oh, divine chocolate! [434] /They grind thee kneeling, /Beat thee with hands praying. And drink thee with eyes to heaven.”[16]

Part of my instructive style encourages students to note descriptive details that support a focused visual analysis of a work of art. For example, despite his hard labor, the man is neatly dressed. He wears brown breeches and a white shirt with a broad collar that extends down his back. The shirt is buttoned on the front and tied with a red ribbon at the waist and chest. He also sports brown boots. Although kneeling, the man occupies the center of the composition at eye-level. The man’s prominent placement at the center of the composition emphasizes the dignity of this labor, even though grinding chocolate was exhausting work. A bowl to his left contains the chocolate shavings pushed off the stone as he processes the chocolate. A letter supports five large chocolate disks. A partially covered box containing chocolate disks and three smaller disks are seen on the right, while another is partially visible on the left. The man’s position in the lower half of the composition thus raises attendant questions about the viewer’s gaze in objectifying the Black male subject. How are we, as viewers, meant to engage with him? Do we look at, above, down at, or with him? How do we dismantle the racial biases imposed by the sense of sight?

Furthermore, chocolate grinding as a profession attached to African labor merits further explanation. For Spaniards, chocolate was an important American product that bridged conquest with commerce and bound economic interests with human capital.[17] Cacao production in the Americas was interconnected with enslaved African labor. South American plantations cultivated this crop for export to Europe well into the nineteenth century. Thus, it is known that chocolate grinding in North America was an occupation held by Black men, whether freed or enslaved. This fact is especially relevant for WSSU students in making visual connections [435] among art, labor, and economic production in the early modern Iberian and Atlantic worlds.[18]

However, certain ambiguities complicate the task of evaluating this painting. The nature of the letter on which the five disks in the foreground rest is hard to ascertain as the handwriting is nearly illegible. Edward Sullivan has reasonably suggested that it is a legal document, based on his identification of some words, such as “casa” or “house” in Spanish.[19] In my examination of the letter, I have discerned the name “Luis” and the letters “Rs,” which can stand for “reales,” or Spanish currency. This letter, then, perhaps records the man’s name or that of the individual for whom he grinds the chocolate. The documents on the ground can be interpreted in different ways. They might indicate the wage he was paid for grinding it or the fee for his release from bondage, whether indentured servitude or slavery. Given its conspicuous location in the foreground, the letter could be a statement of manumission proclaiming the man’s freedom, but this remains highly speculative as the script is difficult to decipher.[20]

Saint Martín de Porres

The Mint Museum’s Saint Martín de Porres (figure 2) complements the North Carolina Museum of Art’s A Man Scraping Chocolate (figure 1) in its illustration of African labor. Born the illegitimate son of a Spanish nobleman and freed African mother, Saint Martín de Porres (Martín de Porres Velázquez, O.P. December 9, 1579 – November 3, 1639) was a Peruvian lay brother of the Dominican order. He was nicknamed the “fray escoba” (“friar of the broom”) as he was the patron saint of custodians and service workers. He is often shown sweeping to demonstrate the worthiness of that labor, often perceived as menial. He was eventually beatified in 1837 by Pope Gregory XVI and canonized by Pope John XXIII in 1962.[21] [436]

The Mint Museum’s painting represents both the saint’s humility and sanctity. He wears the habit of the Dominican order with a rosary around his neck. The saint sweeps a small spare space that is warmed by a lit brazier. Animals often accompany Saint Martín de Porres. In this painting, a dog, cat, and mouse harmoniously share food from the same bowl while another mouse nibbles on a food scrap.[22] While he appears in the mundane task of sweeping the floor with a broom, his saintly or holy nature also reveals itself. The saint’s gaze turns to the heavens, with his head framed by a radiant halo; the golden clouds reiterate that effect in the background.

In the classroom, we further navigate the juxtapositions between A Man Scraping Chocolate (figure 1) and Saint Martín de Porres (figure 2). There is ample evidence that Saint Martín de Porres had to negotiate racial and racist attitudes toward him as a Black friar. In considering the complexities of racialization posed by the latter image of Saint Martín, one can deliberate the question: how does this image express racial anxieties toward Black sanctity?[23]

The Defense of the Eucharist

Even though the paintings discussed above present us with plural representations of Black labor and varying perceptions of blackness, the Spanish transferred exclusionary concepts of personhood from Europe to America, whereby both African and Ingenious communities were subjected to similar racialized agendas and policies of disenfranchisement [437] and exclusion.[24] [437] For example, Europeans transferred the Islamophobic stereotype of the “Turk” and the “Moor” as an arch-enemy of Christianity to Andean communities in South America. Likewise, Spaniards often conflated distinct groups, such as Turks, Muslims, and indigenous peoples, as apostates and threats to the sanctity of the Eucharist. The Mint Museum’s The Defense of the Eucharist (figure 3) represents the king of Spain, possibly Charles II (r. 1665–1700), and plausibly Muslim bystanders beholding the Eucharist to promote the Spanish monarch as a defender of the Catholic faith. A soldier sporting a feathered helmet protects the king. A lion and orb appear underfoot as symbols of the monarch’s power. This imagery capitalizes on negative depictions of the Turks using racial stereotypes signified by elements of dress and costume such as turbans and scimitars. The king brandishes his sword to guard the Eucharist, the consecrated bread wafer (ensconced in a jeweled, gold monstrance), from three Turks who are portrayed as the king’s enemies as they unsuccessfully try to topple the Eucharist by pulling on a thin ribbon. Two coats-of-arms, presumably the king’s, flank an icon of Christ as Pantocrator (or ruler of the universe) at the composition’s top and center, who miraculously protects the king against the Turks.[25]

This imagery also draws poignant parallels between Iberian Morisco communities and South American indigenous populations that complicate the racialization of the other in early modern South America. Complex layerings need to be dismantled in making these connections among the Turks, Moriscos, and indigenous Andean populations. While significant cultural and religious distinctions exist between the Moriscos and Turks, the Spanish perceived both groups as a monolithic threat to Christianity.[26] Thus, in portraying the Turks as the purported enemies of the Christian faith, the image transfers the visual rhetoric of othering the Moriscos [438] (Spanish Muslims who converted to Christianity) to indigenous populations who were similarly perceived by the Spanish as “heathen” and were consequently (and forcibly) converted to Christianity. The painting’s mimetic representation of the figures is troubling because it imposes the medieval mentality of conquest onto indigenous communities using the pictorial language of realism.[27]

Developing Connections in Classroom Comparisons

Building on the analysis above, the following comparisons aid in thinking deeply about how African men were represented in early modern Iberian and Latin American art, and offer additional opportunities for analytic comparisons.

Comparison 1: A Man Scraping Chocolate and Diego Velázquez’s Juan de Pareja

In visualizing how Afro-Hispanic men were represented, the painting of A Man Scraping Chocolate (c. 1680–1780, oil on canvas, Raleigh, North Carolina Museum of Art, figure 1) is an instructive example that lends itself to comparison with Diego Velázquez’s portrait of Juan de Pareja (1650, oil on canvas, New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, figure 4).


Oil portrait of Diego Velázquez. He wears a lace collar and a green cloak.
Figure 4. Diego Velázquez, Juan de Pareja (1650, oil on canvas, New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The portrait of Juan de Pareja is a singular image because it is the only known portrait of an enslaved African man in seventeenth-century Spain. Velázquez painted Pareja’s likeness during his Roman sojourn from 1649 to 1651 while the latter was still indentured to the former. A notarial act freed Pareja on November 23, 1650, eight months after the painting’s completion. Pareja is set against a dark background in this portrait and posed in three-quarters view. Dressed in a courtier’s suit, though with worn elbows, Juan de Pareja appears poised and confident with an intense gaze framed by the soft mass of his black hair. As Carmen Fracchia rightly notes, “Velázquez’s choice of a non-European subject at the papal court would have signified the visualization of not only the imperial power of [439] Spain but also his challenge to his virtuosity. The function of Juan de Pareja was to heighten Velázquez’s social status and self-promotion.”[28] [440]

This comparison allows students to raise questions regarding the agency and representation of enslaved and freed African men in early modern Spanish society. Juan de Pareja’s portrait was publicly exhibited in Rome on March 19, 1650; at the time, Velázquez was in residence at the court of Pope Innocent X. When the canvas was displayed in the Pantheon, critics proclaimed that it represented “the truth in painting.”[29] Nevertheless, Velázquez’s portrait of Pareja presents certain paradoxes or exceptions; painted while Pareja was still enslaved, Velázquez strikingly represents him in a courtier portrait, an art genre that was restricted to Spain’s elite.[30] After his emancipation, Juan de Pareja became an artist in his own right and included a self-portrait in his The Calling of Saint Matthew (1661, oil on canvas, Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado).[31]

Comparison 2: Saint Martín de Porres and Luis de Vargas, Preparations for the Crucifixion

In considering Saint Martín’s sanctity in colonial-era Peru, one can also draw comparisons to earlier Spanish paintings to make deeper historical connections between Spain and Latin America. For students, Spanish sixteenth-century images not only provide an instructive context for envisioning African Christianity but also support thinking critically about the relevance of art in framing transatlantic diasporic experiences. Sixteenth-century European altarpieces representing African men in donor portraits are rare in early modern art history. Luis de Vargas’s Preparations for the Crucifixion (figure 5) illustrates a donor portrait of an African man who solemnly kneels in perpetual prayer before the scene of the Crucifixion. Early modern Spanish art rarely depicts this narrative from Christ’s Passion. In this panel, Christ appears in repose on the Cross itself as he [441] despondently awaits his Crucifixion. Aside from the donor, Roman soldiers surround Christ amid preparations for the Crucifixion.


Painting depicting the preparations for Jesus' crucifixion. Jesus sits on a plank of wood while men crowd around him.
Figure 5. Luis de Vargas, Preparations for the Crucifixion.

While the African donor was most likely the individual who commissioned this work, his identity precludes a definitive identification. He wears a black suit with a white ruffled collar. Courtiers, nobility, and clergypersons wore this type of austere clothing that followed the fashions set out [442] by the Hapsburgs who ruled Spain then. Thereby, the Black donor’s clothing signifies his elevated social rank; for example, the elegant collar in Velázquez’s portrait of Juan de Pareja (figure 4) is meant to illustrate an elevation in social status. Likewise, Vargas’s portrait of the Black donor provides a counterpoint to the humble representation of Saint Martín de Porres (figure 2).

Comparison 3: The Defense of the Eucharist and Andrés Sánchez Gallque, Don Francisco de Arobe and His Sons Pedro and Domingo

This comparison focuses on the projection of identity conditioned by race, nation, and faith. In contrast to the grouping of figures in the Defense of the Eucharist (figure 3), Andrés Sánchez Gallque’s group portrait (figure 6) allows for multiple comparisons regarding race, religion, and national allegiances. In contrast to how the Spanish demonized the Turks as apostates or non-believers who attempted to desecrate the Eucharist in the Defense of the Eucharist and required the Spanish king’s intervention to control them (figure 3), Gallque’s group portrait focuses on the allegiance and obedience of his subjects to the Spanish monarchy. The portrait was commissioned in 1599 by Juan Barrio y Sepúlveda, a judge in the audiencia (regional court) of the Viceroyalty of Peru, who sent it to King Philip III; a lengthy inscription and signature confirm the date of the painting as 1599 as well as Gallque’s authorship of it. This painting was exported to Madrid as a gift to King Philip III and remained in the Spanish royal collection until it was transferred to the Prado Museum in the nineteenth century.


Group portrait of Francisco de Arobe and his two sons, Pedro and Domingo. They are painted holding lances and are dressed in intricate clothing and jewelry.
Figure 6. Andrés Sánchez Gallque’s group portrait.

More importantly, Gallque’s remarkable group portrait is the first significant representation of multiracial individuals of African and Indigenous ancestry and the “oldest surviving signed portrait” from South America.[32] Francisco de Arobe is shown with his two sons, Pedro and Domingo, during an official visit to Quito, Ecuador, in 1598; inscriptions above their [443] heads identify their names. The elder de Arobe was the son of an indigenous Nicaraguan woman and an escaped enslaved African. He brokered an agreement with the Spanish Crown and pledged his loyalty to the king. In return, he was granted a governorship that gave him control over the Esmeraldas, an expansive region in Ecuador populated chiefly by African and Indigenous peoples and rich in natural resources. Portrayed in three-quarters length against a pale background, the men sport elaborate attire that incorporates Spanish-style collars and suits, Andean textiles, shell necklaces, and gold nose and ear ornaments. They all hold steel-tip spears that illustrate their defense of Ecuadorian territories against English and Dutch piracy.[33] [444]

Moreover, this approach to the three paintings from North Carolina collections prompts students to consider the implications of race in the Atlantic world to assess early modern artists’ cultural identities. While the artists who painted these works remain anonymous, one can plausibly speculate that Afro-descended or Indigenous indigenous artists could have made them.

While the case studies focus on late-seventeenth- and eighteenth-century paintings by anonymous Spanish and South American artists, named artists of African origins such as Juan de Pareja in Madrid (figure 4),[34] Juan Correa in Mexico,[35] Andrés de Liébana in Lima, and the Indigenous Ecuadorian painter Andrés Sánchez Gallque[36] achieved recognition and success despite the barriers imposed by racial discrimination and social restrictions.[37]

The Visual Complexity of the African Diasporic Experience

In sum, these three paintings in North Carolina collections allow students to visualize the complexity of the African diaspora both in Spain and Latin America.[38] [445]

Students cultivate a more nuanced perspective on Renaissance and Baroque art once they see representations of African and Indigenous peoples as individuals with agency and who were endowed with spirituality and sanctity, despite the obstacles they encountered in both European countries and Latin American societies. Evaluating these images helps them to visualize the extent to which Europeans exercised cultural control over colonized populations in the early modern era and how African diasporic communities endured and defied these challenges and were indeed visible in early modern Spanish and Latin American societies. These topics are incredibly complex to extricate as they are also entangled with the traumatic history of transatlantic slavery.

To contextualize the African contribution to global histories better, historians Kennetta Hammond Perry and Kira Thurman have re-circulated the term “Black Europe” to understand the ties between African diasporic and European communities, especially during the Renaissance. As both authors rightly note, this critical model of analysis “provides a framework for us to ask questions, rethink relationships, and reimagine linkages, and boundaries … Thus, by examining Black lives and experiences in Europe’s past, historians unsettle what it means to be European, and they unsettle what it means to be Black.”[39] In the specific context of this essay, this framework underscores the contributions of Afro-descended peoples as imperative to the formation of artistic, cultural, intellectual, and social milieus in the early modern Atlantic world; in doing so, it decenters and resists racialized, hegemonic narratives of Renaissance art history and addresses the complexity of African diasporic identity in early modern Europe and Latin America.[40] [446]

This category of historic analysis is valuable in understanding the implications of race in images of Black Africans in Spain and the Americas, such as A Man Scraping Chocolate (figure 1), Saint Martín de Porres (figure 2), and The Defense of the Eucharist (figure 3). A Man Scraping Chocolate (figure 1) shows how Black labor, particularly chocolate grinding, was perceived in early modern Spanish society. In comparison, Saint Martín de Porres (figure 2) illustrates how artists portrayed the sanctity and spiritual lives of Black saints in early modern Latin American visual culture. Finally, in a distinct and different visual turn, The Defense of the Eucharist’s (figure 3) transfer and imposition of negative racial and religious stereotypes on American communities allows for an extended analysis of racialized imagery in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century South American art.

Additionally, this approach to analyzing early modern Iberian and Latin American imagery has profoundly impacted students; many undergraduates are surprised by these images. Most students associate pre-modern European art and history with the physical horrors and psychological trauma of slavery and racial violence, and not necessarily with the representation of non-European subjects. Studying these images, particularly in the context of an HBCU, allows more in-depth discussions about social justice and injustices concerning the representation of Africans in early modern visual culture. For example, are the men in these paintings objectified following European definitions of blackness, or do their likenesses convey their agency as individuals?[41] Moreover, in viewing these specific images of Afro-Hispanic and Afro-Latin American men, students are prompted to think more deeply about African Europeans and African Latin Americans to sort out the challenging global implications of colonialism, race, and nation. [447]

Suggestions For Application: Discussion Questions

These five, multi-part questions are intended to engage students in art historical analysis and interpretation that encompasses both breadth and depth of critical thinking. In particular, the first question helps students understand the relevance of Renaissance imagery to contemporary art practices. The fifth question allows students to make connections throughout the extended timeline of the course that encompasses the Renaissance to contemporary art. In-class writing exercises could be guided by prompts such as:

  1. How do artworks in local or regional (North Carolina, in this case study) collections connect to ones in other national and international collections? How can we find globality in local contexts?
  2. How was African labor envisioned in early modern Iberian or Latin American art?
  3. How was African spirituality presented in Latin American and Spanish art and visual culture?
  4. How do these paintings challenge your point (or points of view) on identity and nation? Race? Otherness? Selfhood?
  5. How do modern and contemporary African American artists such as John Biggers, Kehinde Wiley, Julie Mehrutu, and Amy Sherald engage or confront these European visual traditions in their artistic praxes? [448]

Suggested Course Assignments

Different options for research-based course assignments on the topic of the African presence in European and Latin American early modern art history include an analytic comparison of two works of art supported by research; a Tiki-Toki timeline that covers a variety of objects from different cultures and periods within 1400–1800; a zine that, similarly to the timeline, is expansive in chronology and scope; or an exhibition proposal plan that contains an introduction, a checklist of twenty images, and an annotated bibliography, which can be formatted as an Adobe Spark presentation or archived in an online platform such as Omeka. These projects are scaffolded, meaning specific benchmarks such as the preparation of a proposal, the compilation of an annotated bibliography, and the write-up of drafts shape the undergraduate research process. These steps are constructive for students who need research experience in the arts and humanities disciplines.[42]

Suggested Further Readings

Fracchia, Carmen. “(Lack of) Visual Representation of Black Slaves in Spanish Golden Age Painting.” Journal of Iberian and Latin American Studies 10, no. 1 (June 2004): 23–34.

———. “The Place of Slaves in Early Modern Spain.” In The Place of the Social Margins, 1350–1750, edited by Andrew Spicer and Jane L. Stevens Crenshaw, 117–134. U.K.: Routledge, 2017.

———. “Constructing the Black Slave in Early Modern Spanish Painting.” In Others and Outcasts in Early Modern Europe, edited by Tom Nichols, 179–195. Aldershot, U.K., and Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2007.

Kaplan, Paul H.D. “Introduction.” In The Image of the Black in Western Art: From the Early Christian Era to the “Age of Discovery.” From Demonic Threat of the Incarnation of Sainthood, edited by David Bindman and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., vol. 2, part I, 1–30. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press, 2010. [449]

Lowe, Kate. “The Lives of African Slaves and People of African Descent in Renaissance Europe.” In Revealing the African Presence in Renaissance Europe, edited by Joaneath Spicer, 13–34. Baltimore: The Walters Art Museum, 2012.

———. “Black Africans’ Religious and Cultural Assimilation to, or, Appropriation of, Catholicism, 1470–1520.” Renaissance and Reformation 31, no. 2 (Spring 2008): 67–86.

———. “The Stereotyping of Black Africans in Renaissance Europe.” In Black Africans in Renaissance Europe, edited by T.F. Earle and K.J.P. Lowe, 17–47. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

Spicer, Joaneath. “European Perceptions of Blackness as Reflected in the Visual Arts.” In Revealing the African Presence in Renaissance Europe, edited by Joaneath Spicer, 35–59. Baltimore: The Walters Art Museum, 2012.

———. “Free Men and Women of African Ancestry in Renaissance Europe.” In Revealing the African Presence in Renaissance Europe, edited by Joaneath Spicer, 81–99. Baltimore: The Walters Art Museum, 2012.

Stoichita, Victor I. “The Image of the Black in Spanish Art: Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries.” In The Image of the Black in Western Art, From the “Age of Discovery” to the Age of Abolition, Part 1: Artists of the Renaissance and Baroque, edited by David Bindman and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., vol. 3, part I, 191–234. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press, 2010.

  1. Special thanks go to Dr. Matthieu Chapman and Dr. Anna Wainwright for including my work in this volume and for their support. I am also grateful to Dr. Cecile Yancu and the anonymous reviewer whose thoughtful comments and feedback greatly improved this text.
  2. Art 2302 (Art History II) is designed as a class that serves diverse student populations. It is offered to non-art majors as a general education course with fine arts as the area of knowledge and critical thinking as a student learning outcome. Art majors take this course as one of the foundation requirements in the degree.
  3. For a history of Winston-Salem State University, see E. Louise Murphy, rev. and ed., Frances Ross Coble, Simona Atkins, and Wilma Levister Lassiter, The History of Winston-Salem State University, 1892–1995 (Virginia Beach, VA: The Donning Company/Publishers, 1999).
  4. Race and periodization were the focus of a ground-breaking conference on medieval and early modern history: “Race and Periodization: a #RaceB4Race Symposium,” September 5–7, 2019, Washington, D.C.: https://acmrs.asu.edu/public-events/symposia/race-and-periodization (Accessed November 19, 2019).
  5. High-impact practices are educational approaches that have demonstrated a significant impact on student success. They consist of learning communities, writing-intensive courses, undergraduate research, and diversity/global learning, among other methods that promote increased student engagement and participation. These methods are especially impactful when they engage traditionally underserved student populations. While there is an extensive body of education literature that underscores the benefits of these practices, an essential reference for their impact on underserved student populations is George D. Kuh, High-Impact Educational Practices: What Are They, Who Has Access to Them, and Why They Matter (Washington, DC: Leap, 2008), eBook.
  6. The following exhibition catalogue is an excellent introduction: Joaneath Spicer, ed., Revealing the African Presence in Renaissance Europe (Baltimore: The Walters Art Museum, 2012). See also Carmen Fracchia, “Black but Human” Slavery and the Visual Arts in Hapsburg Spain, 1480–1700 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2019).
  7. For the concept of “slow looking,” or the cultivation of observation skills that foster critical reasoning, namely in the visual arts, see Shari Tishman, Slow Looking: The Art and Practice of Learning through Observation (London: Routledge, 2017).
  8. For the provenance of A Man Scraping Chocolate, see Lisandra Estevez, “(Re)-presenting Africans in Early Modern Spain and Latin America.” Notes on Early Modern Art, vol. 4, no. 1 (2017): 14–16. The Mint Museum’s Defense of the Eucharist and Saint Martín de Porres were acquired from the Paul and Virginia Clifford Collection. The Cliffords were known for their extensive collection of South American art.
  9. Estevez, “(Re)-presenting Africans in Early Modern Spain and Latin America,” 11–22.
  10. For a comprehensive study of Saint Martín de Porres’s hagiography, see Celia Cussen, Black Saint of the Americas: The Life and Afterlife of Martín de Porres (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014).
  11. Lisandra Estevez, “Imagining the Other in a Cuzco Defense of the Eucharist,” Renaissance Papers 2018 (2019): 67–92.
  12. Carmen Fracchia has extensively published on this topic. See the following link for her publications: https://www.worldcat.org/search?qt=worldcat_org_all&q=Fracchia, Carmen. (Accessed November 19, 2019). Among Victor Stoichita’s many publications, see Darker Shades: The Racial Other in Early Modern Art (London: Reaktion Books, 2019); Tanya Tiffany, “Light, Darkness, and African Salvation: Velázquez’s Supper at Emmaus.” Art History, vol. 31, no. 1 (2008): 33–56; and also Spicer, ed., Revealing the African Presence in Renaissance Europe.
  13. Grace Harpster, “The Color of Salvation: The Materiality of Blackness in Alonso de Sandoval’s De instaurando Aethiopium salute.” In Envisioning Others: Race, Color, and the Visual Arts in Iberia and Latin America, ed. Pamela A. Patton (Leiden: Brill, 2016), 83–110; Erin Kathleen Rowe. “After Death, Her Face Turned White: Blackness, Whiteness, and Sanctity in the Early Modern Hispanic World” American Historical Review (2016): 727–54; idem, “Visualizing Black Sanctity in Early Modern Spanish Polychrome Sculpture.” In Envisioning Others: Race, Color, and the Visual Arts in Iberia and Latin America, ed. Pamela A. Patton (Leiden: Brill, 2016), 51–82; and idem, Black Saints in Early Modern Global Catholicism (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2019).
  14. See The Image of the Black in Western Art: From the Early Christian Era to the “Age of Discovery.” From Demonic Threat of the Incarnation of Sainthood, eds. David Bindman and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., vol. 2, part I (Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press, 2010) and The Image of the Black in Western Art, From the “Age of Discovery” to the Age of Abolition, Part 1: Artists of the Renaissance and Baroque, edited by David Bindman and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., vol. 3, part I (Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press, 2010).
  15. See the essays by both scholars in Aurelia Martín Casares and Margarita García Barranco, eds., La esclavitud negroafricana en la historia de España. Siglos XVI y XVI (Granada: Editorial Comares, S.L., 2010) and Luis Méndez Rodríguez, Esclavos en la pintura sevillana de los siglos de Oro (Seville: University of Seville, 2011).
  16. “¡O, divino chocolate! Que arrodillado tu muelan, Manos plegadas te baten Y ojos al cielo te beban.” Cited from Sophie D. Coe and Michael D. Coe, The True History of Chocolate (London: Thames and Hudson, 1996), 210. See also Estevez, “(Re)presenting Africans,” 12, no. 8.
  17. For a recent study on this topic through the lens of literary production, see Erin Alice Cowling, Chocolate: How a New World Commodity Conquered Spanish Literature (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2021).
  18. Estevez, “(Re)-presenting Africans,” 21.
  19. Cited in Estevez, “(Re)-presenting Africans,” 14.
  20. Estevez, “(Re)-presenting Africans,” 12, 14.
  21. See Cussen, Black Saint of the Americas, 19–102.
  22. Chris Garces, “The Interspecies Logic of Race in Colonial Peru: Saint Martín de Porres’s Animal Brotherhood,” in Sainthood and Race: Marked Flesh, Holy Flesh, edited by Molly H. Bassett and Vincent W. Lloyd (New York and London: Routledge, 2015), 82–101.
  23. See Cussen, Black Saint of the Americas, 119 and Geraldine Heng, “An African Saint in Medieval Europe: The Black Saint Maurice and the Enigma of Racial Sanctity,” in Sainthood and Race: Marked Flesh, Holy Flesh, eds. Molly H. Bassett and Vincent W. Lloyd (New York and London: Routledge, 2015), 18–43.
  24. Sylvia Wynter writes about this exclusionary constitution of the human: idem, “Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom: Towards the Human, After Man, Its Overrepresentation — An Argument.” CR: The New Centennial Review 3 (2003): 257–337.
  25. Estevez, “Imagining the Other in a Cuzco Defense of the Eucharist, 67.
  26. Andrew C. Hess, “The Moriscos: An Ottoman Fifth Column in Sixteenth-Century Spain,” The American Historical Review 74 (1) (1968): 1–25.
  27. Estevez, “Imagining the Other in a Cuzco Defense of the Eucharist,” 68–69.
  28. Carmen Fracchia, “Metamorphoses of the Self in Early-Modern Spain: Slave Portraiture and the Case of Juan de Pareja,” In Slave Portraiture in the Atlantic World, edited by Agnes Lugo-Ortiz and Angela Rosenthal (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 153.
  29. For an extensive bibliography on Velázquez’s Juan de Pareja, see the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s online entry: https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/437869 (Accessed November 19, 2019).
  30. Artist Julie Mehretu presents a compelling interpretation of this painting in The Artist Project, a video series supported by the Metropolitan Museum of Art: http://artistproject.metmuseum.org/5/julie-mehretu/. (Accessed November 19, 2019).
  31. Carmen Fracchia and Hilary Macartney, “The Fall into Oblivion of the Works of the Slave Painter Juan de Pareja,” Art in Translation 4 (2) (2012): 163–83.
  32. Tom Cummins, “Three Gentlemen from Esmeraldas: A Portrait fit for a King,” in Slave Portraiture in the Atlantic World, edited by Agnes Lugo-Ortiz and Angela Rosenthal (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 129.
  33. Thomas B.F. Cummins, “Don Francisco de Arobe and His Sons Pedro and Domingo,” in The Arts in Latin America 1492–1820, edited by Joseph J. Rischel and Suzanne Stratton-Pruitt (New York and London: Yale University Press, 2006), VI-40, 418; Susan Verdi Webster, “Of Signatures and Status: Andrés Sánchez Gallque and Contemporary Painters in Early Colonial Quito,” The Americas, Vol. 70, No. 4 (April 2014): 603–44; Tom Cummins, “Three Gentlemen from Esmeraldas: A Portrait Fit for a King,” in Slave Portraiture in the Atlantic World, edited by Agnes Lugo-Ortiz and Angela Rosenthal (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 119–145; and Baltasar Fra Molinero, “Los mulatos de Esmeraldas (1599): afrofuturismo en el museo,” In La negritud y su poética. Prácticas artísticas y miradas críticas contemporáneas en Latinoamérica y España, ed, Andrea Díaz Mattei (Montevideo: BMR-Cultural Sevilla Publicaciones Enredars, 2019), 51–67.
  34. See Fracchia and Macartney, “The Fall into Oblivion of the Works of the Slave Painter Juan de Pareja,” and also Fracchia, “Metamorphoses of the Self in Early-Modern Spain: Slave Portraiture and the Case of Juan de Pareja.”
  35. Aaron M. Hyman, “Inventing Painting: Cristóbal de Villalpando, Juan Correa, and New Spain's Transatlantic Canon,” The Art Bulletin, Vol. 99, No. 2 (2017): 102–35.
  36. See note 33 for references.
  37. Joaneath Spicer, “Free Men and Women of African Ancestry in Renaissance Europe,” In Revealing the African Presence in Renaissance Europe, edited by Joaneath Spicer (Baltimore: The Walters Art Museum, 2012), 81–99.
  38. The following articles allow students to reflect further on the implications of early modern history and different aspects of the African diaspora: Tiffany Ruby Patterson and Robin D.G. Kelley, “Unfinished Migrations: Reflections on the African Diaspora and the Making of the Modern World,” African Studies Review 43, no. 1 (2000): 11–45, and Nadi Edwards, “Diaspora, Difference, and Black Internationalisms,” Small Axe 9, no. 17 (2005): 120–28.
  39. Kennetta Hammond Perry and Kira Thurman, “Black Europe: A Useful Category of Analysis,” http://www.aaihs.org/black-europe-a-useful-category-of-historical-analysis/ (Accessed November 19, 2019).
  40. See T.F. Earle and K.J.P Lowe, eds., Black Africans in Renaissance Europe (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005) and Paul Gilroy, The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double-Consciousness (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1995).
  41. For an excellent discussion of these issues in early modern European art, see Kim F. Hall, “Object into Object?: Some Thoughts on the Presence of Black Women in Early Modern Culture,” in Early Modern Visual Culture: Representation, Race, and Empire in Renaissance England, ed. Peter Erickson and Clark Hulse (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000), 346–79.
  42. For the integration of in-person and virtual exhibitions as part of the undergraduate research experience, see Ian F. MacInnes, Alexa Sand, and Lisandra Estevez, “Using Exhibitions for Undergraduate Scholarship,” CURAH: The Arts and Humanities Division of the Council on Undergraduate Research, http://curartsandhumanities.org/2019/11/18/undergraduate-exhibitions/ (Accessed November 21, 2019).


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