Objects from sub-Saharan Africa in Italian Collections, 1500-1700
Kate Lowe is Professor Emerita of Renaissance History and Culture at Queen Mary University of London and Associate Fellow at the Warburg Institute. She has taught at the Universities of London, Hong Kong, Cambridge, Birmingham and North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In 2005 she co-edited Black Africans in Renaissance Europe and she has worked on various aspects of Africa in Renaissance Italy for over 20 years. In 2017 she co-curated A Cidade Global: Lisboa no Renascimento at the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga in Lisbon. She was the academic editor of the history monograph series I Tatti Studies in Italian Renaissance History, published by Harvard University Press, between 2012 and 2020.
The place of sub-Saharan Africa in Renaissance Italy and Europe has always been less studied than the place of Asia or the Americas. An exhibition on the subject, curated by Ingrid Greenfield and Kate Lowe under the auspices of the Medici Archive Project, is scheduled in the Tesoro dei granduchi at the Pitti in 2023. It will invite consideration of why Africa has been less studied through an examination of African works of art that made their way into collections in Renaissance Italy. The Medici collection will be a main focus, but other Italian collections of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries will offer additional context and opportunities for comparison. The exhibition will propose that interest in sub-Saharan Africa on the part of Italians, and how they understood this region of the world to be significant during the Renaissance, are critical questions in both the history of collecting and the history of art in Europe in this period and beyond.