(The Root) — This image is part of a weekly series that The Root is presenting in conjunction with the Image of the Black in Western Art Archive at Harvard University’s W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research.
Over the centuries, European artists depicted a variety of religious figures as black, most notably one of the Three Kings, or Magi, bearing gifts for the baby Jesus.
In Adoration of the Magi (1504), Albrecht Dürer subtly depicts the reception of the Three Kings by the Virgin and Child. The old king worships the Christ Child, and the middle-aged king looks toward the young black king, who in turn is focused on the scene of veneration before him. Elegant and refined, the black king stands out as a magnificent ethnic representation of the features of an African.
Click here to read more about the Magi.
The Image of the Black in Western Art Archive resides at Harvard University’s W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research. The director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute is Henry Louis Gates Jr., who is also The Root’s editor-in-chief. The archive and Harvard University Press collaborated to create The Image of the Black in Western Art book series, eight volumes of which were edited by Gates and David Bindman and published by Harvard University Press. Text for each Image of the Week is written by Sheldon Cheek.