The Color of Stone: Sculpting the Black Female Subject in Nineteenth-Century America
Nineteenth-century neoclassical sculpture was a highly politicized international movement. Based in Rome, many expatriate American sculptors created works that represented black female subjects in compelling and problematic ways. Rejecting pigment as dangerous and sensual, adherence to white marble abandoned the racialization of the black body by skin color.
In The Color of Stone, Charmaine A. Nelson brilliantly analyzes a key, but often neglected, aspect of neoclassical sculpture-color. Considering three major works-Hiram Powers's Greek Slave, William Wetmore Story's Cleopatra, and Edmonia Lewis's Death of Cleopatra-she explores the intersection of race, sex, and class to reveal the meanings each work holds in terms of colonial histories of visual representation as well as issues of artistic production, identity, and subjectivity. She also juxtaposes these sculptures with other types of art to scrutinize prevalent racial discourses and to examine how the black female subject was made visible in high art.
Charmaine Nelson is a Canada Research Chair in Transatlantic Black Diasporic Art and Community Engagement and Professor of History at NSCAD University.
Other publications from this author include:
- Towards an African Canadian art history : art, memory, and resistance (2018)
- Slavery, Geography and Empire in Nineteenth-Century Marine Landscapes of Montreal and Jamaica (2016)
- Legacies Denied: Unearthing the Visual Culture of Canadian Slavery (2013)
- Ebony Roots, Northern Soil: Perspectives on Blackness in Canada (2010)
- Representing the Black Female Subject in Western Art (2010)
- Racism Eh? : A Critical Inter-Disciplinary Anthology of Race in the Canadian Context (2004)