Africans also chose to visit Europe, travelling on religious or diplomatic missions. A contingent of Ethiopian pilgrims based themselves in Rome and a touching Flemish engraving depicts “St Philip Baptising the Ethiopian Counsellor”. Another engraving is a portrait of “Don Antonio Manuele de Funta, Ambassador of the King of the Congo to the Pope”. Attempts to gain influence in distant lands worked both ways.
An African servant gave birth to a son whose father later became pope. The mixed-race boy, Alessandro, grew up to be the first Medici Duke of Florence. He is the subject here of a fine small portrait by Bronzino.
–More Facts Less Fiction
As jewelry, such figures usually appear in antique Venetian (though nowadays they can be made anywhere) earrings, bracelets, cuff links, and brooches. Some contemporary craftsmen continue to make individual pieces, but it is rare because of modern issues with the depiction of dark-skinned people as “exotic” and decorative. They are also a traditional type of earring in Rijeka under the name morčić.