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Hidden Legacies: African Presence in European Antiques Book Inspiration & Release Date

Tanzy Ward

This year I began writing a non-fiction history book that discusses the lack of acknowledgment and acclaim related to African portrayals in European antiques. Hidden Legacies: African Presence in European Antiques emphasizes the many fascinating overlooked antiques that feature African descendants. The book includes captivating images and highlights the historical significance of these crucial collectibles.

Completing this book was very dear to my heart and allowed me to analyze further the importance of including these images and stories in educational textbooks. I reflected on my encounters with learning about European history and cultural studies as an adolescent, and the lack of representation was intriguingly alarming.  My passion and interest in furthering my education have exposed me to the African descendants depicted in Europe's classical antiques and collectibles. In Hidden Legacies, I include vivid paintings, elaborate cameo habilles, fascinating Victorian photography, and extraordinary sculptures that showcase the historical significance of the African presence in European antiques.

’Four Studies of A Male Head’ c. 1617-1620. Attributed to the workshop of Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640). Oil on panel, 25.4 x 67.9 cm This Image and many other historical philosophical depictions are analyzed in the African Representation in European Paintings Chapter.  Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program. 

My goal and vision for sharing Hidden Legacies are to emphasize the superb examples of European antiques that feature African descendants while inspiring meaningful conversations and changes in how European studies are presented. When people reflect on periods such as Europe's Renaissance and Victorian Eras, the ideal image does not include the many African descendants who helped shape history. The unsung and famous African faces that are a part of historical European movements do not receive the acclaim they deserve. Hidden Legacies discusses how advanced philosophical activities and interest in ethnography studies inspired many European antiques that feature African subjects. History has shown us the negative images and stereotypes that have represented people of the African diaspora for centuries. Yet, there are extraordinary examples of realistic and positive portrayals that are not based on personal distorted viewpoints and prejudice. 

(Portrait of an African king in agate; cameo, the second half of the 16th century (enameled gold mount, 17th century). Cameo, between 1550 and 1600; support, 17th century. Created from agate, gold, and enamel. Cabinet des Medailles Collection. © Marie-Lan Nguyen / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY 2.5 Featured in Chapter two 'Cameo Habille: African Royalty Depictions' of Hidden Legacies Book.


I hope readers will reflect and analyze the historic significance emphasized in Hidden Legacies. We can change and update how we showcase European history in modern times. It is important to remember, preserve, and learn about the many African descendants who helped influence European antiquities. I am extremely excited and appreciative of the readers who decide to read and analyze the content in Hidden Legacies: African Presence in European Antiques. I hope the book will encourage and inspire in-depth history reflections.  

Hidden Legacies: African Presence in European Antiques is Now Available to Purchase at Amazon: and Hidden Legacies will also be available at other selected retailers next month for expanded distribution.




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