Evening lecture

Cécile Fromont: Foreign Cloth, Local Habits: Textiles and the Art of Conversion in the Early Modern Kingdom of Kongo

From their king's decision to embrace Catholicism at the beginning of the sixteenth century to the advent of imperial colonialism in the late eighteen hundreds, the men and women of the central African kingdom of Kongo creatively mixed, merged, and redefined local and foreign visual forms, religious thought, and political concepts into the novel, coherent, but also constantly evolving worldview of Kongo Christianity. Sartorial practices and regalia played a central role in the artful conversion of the realm. In this lecture, we will explore how, in their clothing and insignia, the kingdom's elite combined and recast foreign and local emblems and materials into a Kongo Christian visual discourse of power, wealth, and, eventually, history.


Cécile Fromont is an assistant professor in Art History and the College at the University of Chicago. Her writing and teaching focuses on the visual and material culture of Africa and Latin America with a special emphasis on the early modern period (ca 1500-1800) and on the Portuguese-speaking Atlantic World. Her first book, The Art of Conversion: Christian Visual Culture in the Kingdom of Kongo was published in December 2014 by the University of North Carolina Press for the Omohundro Institute for Early American History. She is currently pursuing two lines of research, the first a study of Franciscan Capuchin images of Kongo and Angola composed between 1650 and 1750 that examines the formation and communication of cross-cultural knowledge and the second an investigation of the circulation of African visual and material culture in the early modern Atlantic world.


This lecture is part of the lecture series organized by the research project Networks: Textile Arts and Textility in a Transcultural Perspective (4th-17th Cent.), based at the Institute of Art History and Visual Studies at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and directed by Gerhard Wolf.


In cooperation with

07 July 2015, 6:00pm

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

HS 3075
Unter den Linden 6
10099 Berlin


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