1. Annibale Carracci: Italian servant of African ancestry (1580s).
The Tomasso Brothers, Leeds, England.

2. Jan Mostaert: “Portrait of an African man” (1525-30). 
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

3. Workshop of Bronzino: “Alessandro de’ Medici” (1550s).
The Uffizi Museum, Florence, Italy.

4. Alessandro Allori: “Giulia de’ Medici” (alt. Ortensia de’ Bardi) (1559).
The Uffizi Museum, Florence, Italy.

Showing that people of African ancestry in Renaissance Europe was not limited to slaves and servants. The Medici examples are a bit debated, as no-one really knows who duke Alessando de’ Medici’s mother was. But already in his life time she was said to be a Moor (North African, or Muslim Spanish). Giulia de’ Medici was Alessandro’s daughter.

Jan Jansz Mostaert

The Adoration of the Magi

Netherlands (c. 1520)

Oil on panel,  51 × 36.5 cm.

This painting ‘zooms in’ on the adoration of the magi to such an extent that, as a spectator, you feel almost present at the birth. The kings bring gifts for baby Jesus, who is not in a lowly stable, but in the ruins of a palace - that of King David, where, according to legend, Jesus was born many centuries later.

-Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

“Landscape with an episode from the Conquest of America”, 1535, Jan Mostaert (1475-1555), Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

I saw this in the Rijksmuseum in July, very soon after that magnificent place’s reopening, and also soon after the acquisition of this Middle Ages masterpiece.

It depicts the disruption of an “idyllic” native life in “America” by violent Spanish invaders. It is unusual for its time for its clear sympathy for the Indigenous peoples, even though they are not depicted, er, at all accurately. For a start, they weren’t white, and they did not hang around in the nude.