Slavery: and the Re-emergence of voodoo History is a peculiarly Western form of narrative that might be argued to have its origins in the European struggles for national identity as they coincided with colonial expansionism; history is the story of the evolution of this identity as it condensed around the privileged white male subject”?. Since art, as cultural investment and heritage, is one of the West’s primary historical narratives, it is hardly surprising that the work of its institutions should not simply be to conserve its own myths”?but to suppress any historical position outside this agenda. Judith Wilson In 1865 the English artist and poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti began work on the painting now called The beloved or The Bride An illumination of the Biblical tale of Solomon’s bride, the work features several of the winsome, passively sensual women Rossetti often produced. The central figure, an extremely fair-skinned women with light auburn hair and reddened lips, is posited as an archetypal model of chaste yet barely masked eroticism. Gently drawing aside her lushly-patterned shawl, she unveils a metaphorical gesture alluding to the blossoming of a flower as well as the transitional state of a virtuous new bride. Several young attendants encircle her body amidst a profusion of floral arrangements. The fifth attendant, an androgynous African child, is positioned in the work’s foreground, to the right of the central figure. The youth’s decorative role has been clearly defined: bare-chested yet ornately bejeweled, he proffers a vase of roses to complement the central figure’s “pristine” beauty. While the Beloved reveals duplicate messages regarding human nature, the work also attests to the period’s prevalent definitions of race and serves as an reminder of yet another aspect of European and, in this case, specifically British history. The child’s placement within the work, somewhat isolated fro…
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