"Of course, dogs are a pretty poor judge of human beauty. But I had a rough idea of what to look for." 101 Dalmatians, 1961
Jan Brueghel the Elder
Folkdance Before the Archdukes
Oil on Canvas, 130 x 266 cm.
Not only does this depiction of a folkdance performed by the common folk of the Netherlands for a visiting member of the nobility show us a diverse crowd, it also has an example of how disability was depicted in medieval and renaissance European art.
The young man in the foreground running to fetch water almost certainly has Trisomy 21, also known as Down Syndrome. Depictions of both children and adults with Down Syndrome are common and well-documented in early modern artworks, in everyday scenes like this one as well as religious paintings and portraiture. Andrea Mantegna is known to have depicted Jesus Christ as having Down Syndrome in at least three separate painting:
Disability as well as racial diversity is another marginalized narrative in the art history education we most commonly receive in the United States. You can read more about this in On the Antiquity of Trisomy 21: Moving Towards a Quantitative Diagnosis of Down Syndrome in Historic Material Culture by John M. Starbuck, from the Journal of Contemporary Anthropology. You can read a bit more on the Wikipedia page for Themes in Italian Renaissance Painting, and A History of Intelligence and “Intellectual Disability”: The Shaping of Psychology in Early Modern Europe by C. F. Goodey.
Can you dig it? Here’s some information about our upcoming time together.
I realize that in these images I take on my wookie aspect of last semester.
Please know that when we meet on September 3 2014 I will inhabit my Professor Bootsy aspect.
But it will be the same image-hand in the puppet that is driving us all.