Zaga Christ and The Allen Memorial Art Museum
This important portrait miniature of Zaga Christ by Giovanna Garzoni (previously with Philip Mould & Company) was recently acquired by The Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin. The remarkable work is the earliest known European portrait miniature to depict a black sitter, and was recently featured in both The New York Times and Art Daily.
The representation of black people in Early Modern Europe was rare, and when Afro-European people were depicted, much like their marginalised social status, this tended to be restricted to the peripheries. However, unusually here the independent sitter, named by Philip Mould & Co. as the claimant to the Ethiopian throne, Zaga Christ, is depicted in a highly individualised manner. Even more unusually the reverse of the miniature is signed twice, once in Italian and once in Ethiopic script by female artist Garzoni. It was perhaps Garzoni's own marginalised status as a female artist which enabled her to depict Zaga so sensitively.
The significant artwork joins the collection of the Allen Memorial Museum, and is currently on display in Mobility and Exchange, 1600-1800, curated by Alexandra Letvin.
Zaga at the V&A
The extremely rare Portrait Miniature of the extraordinary Ethiopian traveller Zaga Christ (Ṣägga Krǝstos) by Giovanna Garzoni, court painter at Turin, will be exhibited as part of the upcoming V&A exhibition 'Renaissance Watercolours: from Dürer to Van Dyck' from 16th May 2020.