07 August 2010

Black and White: The Moor, The Black Mozart and Pushkin

Before the United States elected a biracial President there were other prominent people of mixed African and European ancestry. Italian Alessandro de' Medici (1510-1537) ruled Florence as its first Duke. The illegitimate son of Cardinal Giulio de' Medici and an African slave, he was called il Moro, the Moor. Alessandro had two children Giulio and Giulia with his mistress Taddea Malespina and through them the majority of the Italian noble houses are descended. There are many portraits of the Duke including Cristofano dell'Altissimo's (1525–1605) painting from the Giovio Series. Chevalier Joseph Boulogne de Saint-Georges (1745-1799) was born in Guadeloupe to an African slave and a wealthy French plantation owner. His father took Boulogne to France where he would become an important violinist, composer, fencing master and equestrian. Known as The Black Mozart, his image was captured by American portrait painter, Mather Brown (1761–1831) and engraved by English printer William Ward (1769–1823). The great Russian Romantic author, Alexander Pushkin (1799-1837) was the son of a father descended from Russian nobility and a mother of aristocratic German, Swedish and African ancestry. Orest Adamovich Kiprensky (1782-1836) the leading Romantic portrait painter portrayed the founder of modern Russian literature ten years before he would die from wounds received in a duel.

13 comments:

  1. Hi! You have a great blog! Please have a look at my paintings and sketches.
    http://joeparthur.blogspot.com/search/label/art
    I would be pleased if you like to follow my blog.
    :-))))))))))

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  2. Thank you Joe, I will check out your blog. Best, Kendra

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  3. Awesome post Kendra! I had no idea, and very much enjoyed learning something so interesting. Stories like this make your blog so special.

    Having grown up in Salzburg I was particularly curious about the "Black Mozart" and came across this site http://chevalierdesaintgeorges.homestead.com/page1.html, which also has information about a number of other classical composers of African descent.

    Thank you for introducing me to one of the most fascinating figures of the 18th century.

    Cheers,

    Claudia

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  4. Thank you Claudia, Boulogne is a fascinating figure who accomplished so much in his lifetime. Thank you for the link on other classical composers of African descent. Best, Kendra

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  5. I had no idea of any of this.
    Fabulous blog post, so evocative as always

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  6. Thanks Philip, I loved your posting on Facebook about Alessandro de' Medici. I too was struck by his timeless quality, it is ironic that he was assassinated by a distant cousin yet his bloodline lives on. Best, Kendra

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  7. Thank you, Kendra, for another extremely fascinating post, prompting me to read further. Boulogne interests me in particular, being a classical music devotee.

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  8. You are most welcome Alaine! Best, Kendra

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  9. I now must know about Phillip's post on FB.

    It is wonderful Kendra that your blog always has intelligent, interesting and thoughtful posts, which create this wonderful dialogue between your readers, making us all cerebrate, examine and discover.

    Thank you,

    Claudia

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  10. Thank you Claudia and Madina! Best, Kendra

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  11. alexander looks like bobby trendy for some reason :)

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  12. I think that would be a complement to Bobby Trendy!

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