How can we disclose the historical foundations of the formation of a Hispanic Identity in Global Spain? How can we untangle the complex relations between the meanings of colour in the visual arts and the hierarchy of human diversity? Can the visual archive unfold the histories and cultural contributions of the African Diaspora and their descent in early modern Spain? And how can we redefine the early modern period in Spanish history to include ‘other’ narratives and rescue them from historical oblivion?

In her inaugural lecture, Professor Fracchia will explore the complex and contradictory processes of the visibilisation of the African Diaspora and their descent in the Leicester Mexican Casta paintings (newly discovered) and in Iberian porcelain sculptures, drawings, paintings, and reliefs in polychromed wood produced during the Transatlantic slave-trade. Particular attention will be made on the cultural significance of colour in the formation of the free subject.


Carmen Fracchia is Emerita Professor of Hispanic Art History. She worked for 31 years at Birkbeck, University of London, starting in the Department of Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies, which later merged into the Department of Cultures and Languages, currently in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.  Her book ‘Black but Human’: Slavery and Visual Art in Hapsburg Spain, 1480-1700 (Oxford: OUP, 2019; 2023) is in its second edition. She is currently contributing to projects in three museums, The Rijksmuseum (Holland), The Menil Collection, and The North Carolina Museum of Art Foundation in the USA. For Prof Fracchia’s latest news and publications, see carmen-fracchia

When: 28 February 2024, 18:00 — 20:00 
Venue: Birkbeck Clore Management Centre, B01, Clore Lecture Theatre, 27 Torrington Square, Bloomsbury, London WC1E 7JL

This is an hour lecture, followed by a drinks reception

Please note that while this event is free, booking here is required.