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The Root: Images Of A Classic Black Christmas

Journey of the Magi. From a fresco commissioned by the famous Medici family of Florence. The walls show the lavish procession of the Three Kings through a verdant countryside. Although none of the kings is black, a remarkable image of this man of African descent appears in the retinue of the old king. He was quite possibly an actual member of the Medici household. Benozzo Gozzoli/ Journey of the Magi. Bowman in the cortege. 1459. Fresco. Chapel, Palazzo Medici-Riccardi, Florence, Italy. hide caption

toggle caption Benozzo Gozzoli/ Journey of the Magi. Bowman in the cortege. 1459. Fresco. Chapel, Palazzo Medici-Riccardi, Florence, Italy.

David Bindman and Henry Louis Gates Jr., The Root's editor-in-chief, are co-general editors of The Image of the Black in Western Art.

Over the centuries, European artists depicted a variety of religious figures as black, most notably one of the Three Kings, or Magi, bearing gifts for the baby Jesus. These illustrations show depictions of black people in Western art up to the end of the 17th century.

For more of the slideshow, Classic Black Christmas, visit The Root.

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