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222 × 146 × 25 mm
288 pages
77 illustrations, 70 in colour
15 Jul 2019

Darker Shades The Racial Other in Early Modern Art Victor I. Stoichita
Translated by Samuel Trainor

Difference exists; otherness is constructed. This book asks how important Western artists, from Giotto to Titian and Caravaggio, and from Bosch to Dürer and Rembrandt, shaped the imaging of non-Western individuals in Early Modern art. This nuanced and detailed study examines images of racial ‘otherness’ during a time of new encounters with different cultures and peoples, such as people of colour, Muslims and Jews. The book also reconsiders the Western canon’s most essential facets: perspective, pictorial narrative, composition, bodily proportion, beauty, colour, harmony and lighting. What room was there for the ‘Other’ in such a crystalline, unchanging paradigm?

This book is a fascinating investigation for anyone interested in early modern art history, anthropology and post-colonial studies.

‘Victor Stoichita’s wide-ranging book shows that although difference exists, otherness is constructed. This is elegantly illustrated by European images of Blacks, Jews, Turks and Gypsies from the early modern period.’ — Professor Jean Michel Massing, King’s College, Cambridge

‘With impeccable historical scholarship, a subtle attention to minute pictorial details and acute anthropological insight, Victor Stoichita shows how Otherness is portrayed in the images of the early European modernity; not the conspicuous monsters and exotic figures brought back from the first colonial encounters, but the internal Otherness, that of Jews, Gypsies, Blacks and Muslims, whose discreet presence in the midst, or at the immediate periphery, of Western societies became a foil to emphasize by contrast the virtues of Christian identity. A major contribution to the historical anthropology of Europe in the making.’ — Professor Philippe Descola, Chair in Anthropology of Nature, Collège de France

‘A remarkable and highly original book that manages to be both rich in ideas and closely analytical of the paintings, while staking out a completely new field of studies.’ — David Bindman, Emeritus Professor of the History of Art, University College London

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Victor I. Stoichita is Professor of Modern Art History at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland. He is the author of Visionary Experience in the Golden Age of Spanish Art (1997) and A Short History of the Shadow (1997, 2019), and co-author with Anna-Maria Coderch of Goya: The Last Carnival (1999), all published by Reaktion Books.


1 Black and White
2 The Invention of the Jew
3 'The Great Turk'
4 Travellers, Gypsies, Tinkers

Photo Acknowledgements