Adorned with in gilt and gemstones, blackamoor figures are particularly decorative and are commonly seen as furniture, paintings, jewelry and textiles. They are typically swathed in fine robes and almost always wear turbans. Fashion and beauty icons Coco Chanel and Helena Rubinstein collected blackamoor furniture (two Venetian Blackamoors graced the foyer of Chanel’s Paris apartment. Vogue magazine editor Diana Vreeland had a famous collection of blackamoor jewelry from Cartier and Grace Kelly owned a diamond-encrusted blackamoor brooch from Nardi Jewelers of Venice .One of the Pointer Sisters’, Anita Pointer has some blackamoor pieces in her collection of black memorabilia. Aleksandr Pushkin kept a blackamoor figurine on his desk; it reminded him of Abram Petrovich Gannibal, his great-grandfather, an African slave who became a successful Russian general and military engineer.The most famous blackamoor figure is the gem-studded Mohr mit Smaragdstufe, which translates to “Moor with Emerald Cluster” . Created by Balthasar Permoser in 1724, it is housed in the Grünes Gewölbe museum in Germany. see below
At times blackamoors are depicted as exotic noblemen, while at others such as statues, take on positions of servitude, as footmen or waiters. Their noblemen status dates to the Moorish invasion of southern Italy more than a millennium ago; their roots are steeped in conquest. However, some find blackamoor imagery to be racially insensitive because some of the statues look like servants. This dates to the European courts in which black attendants were dressed in exotic finery – and, some feel, were objectified as ornaments. This was particularly true of the court of Versailles in the 17th century.When Dolce & Gabbana featured blackamoor jewelry and clothing designs in its spring 2013 collection fashion show in Milan, the firm was criticized for being tone-deaf as to what blackamoors can represent. The firm responded that such imagery was a reflection of the Italian firm’s roots in a country in which Moors were of historic significance.
During the 18th century wealthy Venetians employed Moors as bodyguards, as they were impressed by their fighting prowess. The regal bearing of the resulting depictions seem to put these exotic immigrants in high regard; they are beautiful and are not demeaned in any way, as evidenced by this sculpture by Andrea Brustolon (photo, below).
Blackamoors should not to be confused with emblems of American slavery, such as the more recent “Aunt Jemima” figures. To make this mistake is to make a mistake of history.
In 2011 a diamond, sapphire and gold blackamoor brooch once owned by Elizabeth Taylor sold for $60,000 at Christie’s. One look at the piece, photo left, reveals the delicacy and respect with which the piece was created by the famous Giulio Nardi, an artist of jewelry design .
The inhabitants of the coast wore gold earrings with enamels white and black like amulets to exorcize the danger of pirates or gave to the churches as votive promises. This is for sure the primigenial blackamoor jewelry that anyway arrived in few years to the motherland.
Venetian artisans created various kinds of Moors exploring all kind of jewelry: earrings, brooches, pendants and necklaces with blackamoors in ebony usually adorned with precious stones and enamels. They love to adorn jewels upon black men and women figurines
Blackamoors were a favorite style statement of the Victorian era;