by Lynn Byrne
“If you are going to walk the walk, you should talk the talk.”
“The beginning of wisdom is the definition of terms.” –Socrates
BLACKAMOOR (RHYMES WITH AMATEUR AND CONNOISSEUR): A dark skinned figure, typically African, used in jewelry, sculpture, armor and decorative arts. Blackamoors have a long history stretching back to the 17th century. They are often portrayed in pairs. Andrea Brustolon (1662–1732) was the most famous sculptor of blackamoors. Often they are shown in positions that a real person could not hold at length.
Although controversial, many tastemakers have collected blackamoors in some form. Coco Chanel had a pair of Venetian Blackamoors in the foyer of her private apartment above her atelier.
Diana Vreeland collected Blackamoor jewelry and famously said: “Have I ever showed you my little blackamoor heads from Cartier with their enameled turbans? I’m told it’s not in good taste to wear blackamoors anymore, but I think I’ll revive them.” Indeed, just recently in their SS2013 collection, Dolce & Gabbana raised a firestorm by decking out its models in blackamoor jewelry.
Despite the controversy, the form persists. When it comes to decorative arts, it is most often seen as a small stand, as lamps or candlesticks or on a clock.
Some consider the blackamoor to be chic. It is not something I would wear or put in my house, but now that you know its many forms, you can decide how you feel about it.
Photo credits: Coco Chanel. Chanel foyer Vreeland quote. pair of tables. Jewelry collage: brooch, earrings, model Table c. 1950′s table lamps candlesticks clock John Lyle home from the New York Social Diary London home image from 2011 House and Garden. Painting